'Til Death Do Us Part

Marital Disruption and Mortality

by Lee A. Lillard, Linda Waite

Both men and women appear to benefit from being married. This article uses data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine the extent to which three key factors — financial well-being, living arrangements, and marital history — account for this relationship. The authors model mortality using a flexible hazard model and find that both married men and women show substantially lower risks of dying than those who are not married. The study's results suggest that — for women, but not for men — the improved financial well-being that often accompanies marriage accounts for much of its beneficial effect. For both husbands and wives the benefits from marriage appear to cumulate as the length of the union increases.

Originally published in: American Journal of Sociology, v. 100, no. 5, March 1995, pp. 1131-1156.

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