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Thread: Wizarding lifespans and families

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    Wizarding lifespans and families

    So I've been wondering something.

    Wizards and witches are longer lived than Muggles. How much longer?

    Do witches have the same amount of child bearing years as Muggles do? Would wizards and witches wait til longer (say 40s-50s) to have children, when that would be considered rather old for Muggle parents?

    Why don't more wizards and witches have lots of kids like the Weasleys? Most other pure-blood families seem to have between one and three kids, while the Weasleys are just outrageous in comparison.

    Would wizards and witches look younger than Muggles of the same age (at say, middle-age, 40s and 50s)? Or do wizards and witches just have a longer time being old?
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    Wizards and witches are longer lived than Muggles. How much longer?
    Well, we know that Dumbledore is about 150 years old at his death, so I'm guessing that's the general length of their lifespans.

    Do witches have the same amount of child bearing years as Muggles do? Would wizards and witches wait til longer (say 40s-50s) to have children, when that would be considered rather old for Muggle parents?
    I'm thinking they are still able to have children a little later in life, like 40's or 50's. James Potter (Sr)'s parents did this, didn't they? I'm pretty sure J.K. Rowling said they died of natural causes (old age), and if James was only twenty or so when it happened they can't have been too young when they had him.

    Why don't more wizards and witches have lots of kids like the Weasleys? Most other pure-blood families seem to have between one and three kids, while the Weasleys are just outrageous in comparison.
    Probably the older pure-blood families only had children so as to have heirs to the family fortune or to marry off. I think it's just preference, sort of the same with us Muggles. Even though they can have kids later in life might not necessarily mean they want to, if that makes sense (I'm bad with wording things). Mrs. Weasley, I think, was just really set on finally having a girl... .

    Would wizards and witches look younger than Muggles of the same age (at say, middle-age, 40s and 50s)? Or do wizards and witches just have a longer time being old?
    They most likely just have a longer time being old. If they looked younger, it would mean their ages compared to Muggles' were ratioed, and I don't think that makes sense based on the facts we see in the books .Just as McGonagall is in her 70s and doesn't seem to look younger than most 70-year-olds.

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    If James sr's parents died of natural causes when he was 20, and 150 is an average lifespan, they'd have to be 130 years old when they had him.

    ... that doesn't work for me.

    Is 150 on the over high side for even a wizarding life span then?
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    Quote Originally Posted by AidaLuthien
    If James sr's parents died of natural causes when he was 20, and 150 is an average lifespan, they'd have to be 130 years old when they had him.

    ... that doesn't work for me.

    Is 150 on the over high side for even a wizarding life span then?
    When Harry Potter takes his OWL examinations in OotP, he is tested by Griselda Marchbanks, who says this about Dumbledore:

    "Examined [Dumbledore] personally in Transfiguration and Charms when he did N.E.W.T.s Did things with a wand I'd never seen before."

    If she tested Dumby (who died at ~150), then Marchbanks must be positively ancient. And since Dumbledore definitely did not die of natural causes, it can reasonably be assumed from Marchbanks' examples that at least some wizards could live to their 170s, or perhaps reach 200.

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    I'm going to have to disagree with lucca4 on several counts. For one thing, there is a suspicious lack of grandparents in the HP world. Harry's are dead; one of Draco's grandfathers, at least, is dead - probably both his father's parents are, since they didn't appear to be living at Malfoy Manor (though I might be influenced too much by fanon on this); Ron's grandparents are never mentioned, even at Bill's wedding, leading me to suspect that they're dead; Sirius' parents are dead - in fact, outside of Hogwarts staff, I can't think of wizards who lived into old age other than Neville's Granny, Ron's Great-Aunt Muriel, and Bathilda Bagshot. Some of this seems to be for JKR's convenience (it wouldn't be quite the same story if Harry had grown up with loving grandparents), but it is canon, so you have to work within the fact that there aren't a huge number of old people in the wizarding world. Also, according to the Lexicon, although JKR did say Dumbledore was about 150 early on, by DH his birth year was revised to 1881, putting him at about 116 at the time of his death. Though of course Dumbledore was quite active and surely could've lived to be at least 150 were it not for the curse on the Horcrux. Plus loads of Jo's wizards of the month were quite old.

    My guess is that under the right circumstances, a witch or wizard could live to be 150, perhaps even much older, but most don't - just like there are people who live into their 100s, but the life expectancy in developed countries is between the late 70s and early 80s. The average life span of a wizard might be something like 90-110.

    I'd guess that this magically-enhanced life span delays menopause for women (and perhaps puberty?). There's some inconsistencies with what JKR has said with regards to James Potter's mother. JKR said that she and her husband were elderly even by wizard standards when they died, which I would think would mean she was at least 90. And she defintely died before James did, at 21, so let's say when he was 20. That would mean she had James at 70! That really seems much too old to me. I think of a late-in-life mother as in her mid-to-late-forties. I believe the average age of menopause (as in actually being completely incapable of conceiving) is about 50. Even if you add 15 years to that for witches, 70 is still damn near miraculous to be having a child. So this leads me to conclude that (a) JKR killed off James' parents for convenience, but didn't want us to feel bad about it (b) to cover this, witches much reach menopause a fair bit later than Muggles and (c) James parents weren't really old by wizard standards - but old enough that their deaths weren't tragic.

    My latest idea is that witches and wizards tend to be less fertile than Muggles. The Weasleys would be a genetic anomaly; they just both happen to be super-fertile by wizarding standards, which is about normal by ours, and they happened to get married and happened to never use birth control. It would help with the genetics / population problem (cause otherwise, those are some sweet genes and wizards should be having babies all over the place). Most wizarding families we see have 1-3 kids (the Lovegoods, the Malfoys (both Draco and his son are only children), most generations on the Black family tree, the Tonks, the Dumbledores, probably Lupin's family, Luna and Rolf Scamandar, and all of the Weasley children). Plus the Potters and Longbottoms, though obviously they might have had more children if things had been different. Obviously there are a lot of things that could effect this - as lucca4 said, I'm sure many pureblood families wanted to have few children to keep their fortunes in tact, and England's birthrates have been declining overall as contraception becomes more available and effective and it becomes the social norm to have smaller families. But let's just pretend it's genetic, and that both wizards and witches are in some way less fertile than Muggles. This would help explain why the magical population is so small when wizard + Muggle appears to almost always = wizard. Plus it makes the Weasleys even more bizarre, and marks them as inferior, since only Muggles have big families. The birth rate at which population remains stable is 2.1 children per woman. The wizarding world seems to be around that; maybe even a bit lower, with the difference being made up by Muggle-borns.

  6. #6
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    As far as James Potter's parents go, natural causes can really mean anything: a stroke, a heart attack, congenital heart disease, lupis, cancer, brain aneurysm, all kinds of things.

    According to Wikipedia, death by natural causes is:
    In medicine, death by natural causes is a loosely defined term used by coroners to describe death when the cause was disease instead of violence or drug use.
    So it could be completely possible that James' parents were no where near being a hundred years old when they died. I always pictured them as being in their sixties or their seventies when they died. Not completely disgusting when you image James' birth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mina
    My guess is that under the right circumstances, a witch or wizard could live to be 150, perhaps even much older, but most don't - just like there are people who live into their 100s, but the life expectancy in developed countries is between the late 70s and early 80s. The average life span of a wizard might be something like 90-110.
    I agree...Dumbledore was an extremely powerful wizard, now that I think about it, and so his living to 116 (! I didn't catch that changing of dates...) was probably a little unusual.

    As I was thinking about this topic more and more, I think maybe pureblood wizards would live longer than half-blood and Muggleborns, just because they have more wizard blood in them. Maybe the reason Dumbledore was able to live to such an old age was because he is (isn't he?) a pureblood of an older family. Intermarriage between Muggles and wizards may have made the lifespan of wizards shorten...just an idea .

    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    So it could be completely possible that James' parents were no where near being a hundred years old when they died. I always pictured them as being in their sixties or their seventies when they died. Not completely disgusting when you image James' birth.
    Thank God! For some reason I thought "natural causes" were limited only to old age...a forty-year-old Mrs. Potter becoming a mother isn't that hard to believe.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucca4
    Maybe the reason Dumbledore was able to live to such an old age was because he is (isn't he?) a pureblood of an older family. Intermarriage between Muggles and wizards may have made the lifespan of wizards shorten...just an idea
    Nope, Dumbledore was a half-blood. His mother Kendra was a Muggle-born witch.

    As for "natural causes" those are natural for Muggles. Aren't wizards also supposed to be hardier than Muggles (less likely to break bones and the like)?
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    I think the longer lives of wizards may also have a lot to do with a lot of the things that Muggles can die from are just things that can be stopped through magic. We do have a fair number of people who live to be more than a hundred (though magic may also have a lot to do with the fact that seem a lot more active than Muggles who live this long).

    Remember, they are just said to live longer on average. That just might mean that there not as many people who die young, like in childhood or in infancy, again, because of magic.

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