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Conjugal bereavement effects on health and mortality at advanced ages

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  • van den Berg, Gerard J.
  • Lindeboom, Maarten
  • Portrait, France

Abstract

Spousal bereavement at old ages may lead to dramatic changes in health. This paper investigates whether spousal bereavement has a causal effect on health and on mortality of the surviving spouse. We advance on the literature in two main ways. First, we model survivals of both spouses and the dynamic evolution of health jointly, allowing for potential endogeneity of timing of bereavement and health in explaining mortality of the surviving spouse. Second, we use a flexible non-parametric data dimensionality reduction method to thoroughly characterize health (using 22 health indicators) by a limited number of latent health indicators. This allows us to investigate the causal effect of spousal bereavement on mortality and on all aspects of health simultaneously. Our analyses are based on an ongoing longitudinal survey that follows a random sample of older individuals from 1992. We find strong instantaneous effects of bereavement on mortality and on certain aspects of health. Individuals lose on average 12% of residual life expectancy after conjugal bereavement. Conjugal bereavement affects the share of healthy years in residual lifetime, primarily because healthy years are replaced by years with chronic diseases. The strong direct effects of bereavement suggest that monitoring and/or interventions just after spousal bereavement are important for the length and quality of life of older bereaved individuals.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 30 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (July)
Pages: 774-794

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:30:y:2011:i:4:p:774-794

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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Keywords: Mortality Bereavement Disease Life expectancy Elderly couples;

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References

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  1. Gaure, Simen & Røed, Knut & Zhang, Tao, 2005. "Time and Causality: A Monte Carlo Assessment of the Timing-of-Events Approach," Memorandum 19/2005, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
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  4. Gritz, R. Mark, 1993. "The impact of training on the frequency and duration of employment," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1-3), pages 21-51.
  5. Jaap H. Abbring & Gerard J. van den Berg, 2003. "The Nonparametric Identification of Treatment Effects in Duration Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1491-1517, 09.
  6. Lee Lillard & Constantijn Panis, 1996. "Marital status and mortality: The role of health," Demography, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 313-327, August.
  7. Deborah Carr & James S. House & Camille Wortman & Randolph Nesse & Ronald C. Kessler, 2001. "Psychological Adjustment to Sudden and Anticipated Spousal Loss Among Older Widowed Persons," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 56(4), pages S237-S248.
  8. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-46, July-Aug..
  9. Orazio Attanasio & Carl Emmerson, 2001. "Differential mortality in the UK," IFS Working Papers W01/16, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. The economics of bereavement
    by Chris Sampson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2013-06-20 05:59:52
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
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Cited by:
  1. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Gupta, Sumedha, 2011. "The role of marriage in the causal pathway from economic conditions early in life to mortality," Working Paper Series 2011:23, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  2. Simeonova, Emilia, 2013. "Marriage, bereavement and mortality: The role of health care utilization," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 33-50.
  3. Michele Belloni & Rob Alessie & Adriaan Kalwij & Chiara Marinacci, 2013. "Lifetime income and old age mortality risk in Italy over two decades," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 29(45), pages 1261-1298, December.
  4. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lundborg, Petter & Vikström, Johan, 2012. "The economics of grief," Working Paper Series 2012:23, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.

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