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In Sickness and in Health? Physical Illness as a Risk Factor for Marital Dissolution in Later Life

In Sickness and in Health? Physical Illness as a Risk Factor for Marital Dissolution in Later Life The health consequences of marital dissolution are well known, but little work has examined the impact of health on the risk of marital dissolution. We use a sample of 2,701 marriages from the Health and Retirement Study to examine the role of serious physical illness onset in subsequent marital dissolution via either divorce or widowhood. We use a series of discrete time event history models with competing risks to estimate the impact of husband’s and wife’s physical illness onset on risk of divorce and widowhood. We find that only measures of wife’s illness onset are associated with elevated risk of divorce, while measures of either spouse’s illness onset is associated with elevated risk of widowhood. Further, in the case of heart problems, we find that this gender difference is statistically significant. These findings suggest health as a determinant of marital dissolution in later life via both biological and gendered social pathways. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Health and Social Behavior SAGE

In Sickness and in Health? Physical Illness as a Risk Factor for Marital Dissolution in Later Life

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References (71)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© American Sociological Association 2015
ISSN
0022-1465
eISSN
2150-6000
DOI
10.1177/0022146515596354
pmid
26315504
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The health consequences of marital dissolution are well known, but little work has examined the impact of health on the risk of marital dissolution. We use a sample of 2,701 marriages from the Health and Retirement Study to examine the role of serious physical illness onset in subsequent marital dissolution via either divorce or widowhood. We use a series of discrete time event history models with competing risks to estimate the impact of husband’s and wife’s physical illness onset on risk of divorce and widowhood. We find that only measures of wife’s illness onset are associated with elevated risk of divorce, while measures of either spouse’s illness onset is associated with elevated risk of widowhood. Further, in the case of heart problems, we find that this gender difference is statistically significant. These findings suggest health as a determinant of marital dissolution in later life via both biological and gendered social pathways.

Journal

Journal of Health and Social BehaviorSAGE

Published: Sep 1, 2015

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