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Gender, marital status and the social control of health behavior

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  • Umberson, Debra
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    Abstract

    Mortality rates are lower for married individuals than they are for unmarried individuals, and marriage seems to be even more beneficial to men than women in this regard. A theoretical model of social integration and social control is developed to explain why this may occur. Drawing from this model, I hypothesize that marriage may be beneficial to health because many spouses monitor and attempt to control their spouse's health behaviors. Furthermore, the provision, receipt, and consequences of these social control efforts may vary for men and women. These hypotheses are considered with analysis of a national panel survey conducted in 1986 (N = 3617) and 1989 (N = 2867). Results show that: (1) marriage is associated with receipt of substantially more efforts to control health for men than women, (2) those who attempt to control the health of others are more likely to be female than male, (3) there is some support for the social control and health behavior hypothesis among the married, and (4) the transition from married to unmarried status is associated with an increase in negative health behavior while the transition from unmarried to married status seems to have little effect on health behavior. A theoretical explanation is developed to explain these marital status differences.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 34 (1992)
    Issue (Month): 8 (April)
    Pages: 907-917

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:34:y:1992:i:8:p:907-917

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    Keywords: health behavior gender social integration marital status;

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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Wilson, Chris M & Oswald, Andrew J, 2005. "How Does Marriage Affect Physical and Psychological Health? A Survey of the Longitudinal Evidence," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 728, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    2. Kasey S. Buckles, 2012. "Selection and the Marriage Premium for Infant Health," Working Papers 003, University of Notre Dame, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2012.
    3. Missinne, Sarah & Colman, Elien & Bracke, Piet, 2013. "Spousal influence on mammography screening: A life course perspective," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 63-70.
    4. Shiovitz-Ezra, Sharon & Litwin, Howard, 2012. "Social network type and health-related behaviors: Evidence from an American national survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(5), pages 901-904.
    5. Rapp, Ingmar & Schneider, Björn, 2013. "The impacts of marriage, cohabitation and dating relationships on weekly self-reported physical activity in Germany: A 19-year longitudinal study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 197-203.
    6. Reczek, Corinne, 2012. "The promotion of unhealthy habits in gay, lesbian, and straight intimate partnerships," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(6), pages 1114-1121.
    7. Wilson, Sven E., 2012. "Marriage, gender and obesity in later life," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 431-453.
    8. Lindström, Martin, 2009. "Marital status, social capital, material conditions and self-rated health: A population-based study," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 93(2-3), pages 172-179, December.
    9. Reczek, Corinne & Umberson, Debra, 2012. "Gender, health behavior, and intimate relationships: Lesbian, gay, and straight contexts," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(11), pages 1783-1790.
    10. Huijun Liu & Shuzhuo Li & Marc Feldman, 2013. "Gender in Marriage and Life Satisfaction Under Gender Imbalance in China: The Role of Intergenerational Support and SES," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 114(3), pages 915-933, December.
    11. Dustin Brown & Robert Hummer & Mark Hayward, 2014. "The Importance of Spousal Education for the Self-Rated Health of Married Adults in the United States," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 127-151, February.
    12. Danan Gu & Yi Zeng, 2004. "Sociodemographic Effects on the Onset and Recovery of ADL Disability among Chinese Oldest-old," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 11(1), pages 1-42, August.
    13. Richard Rogers & Patrick Krueger & Richard Miech & Elizabeth Lawrence & Robert Kemp, 2013. "Nondrinker Mortality Risk in the United States," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 325-352, June.
    14. Catherine Ross & Ryan Masters & Robert Hummer, 2012. "Education and the Gender Gaps in Health and Mortality," Demography, Springer, vol. 49(4), pages 1157-1183, November.
    15. Michael Rendall & Margaret Weden & Melissa Favreault & Hilary Waldron, 2011. "The Protective Effect of Marriage for Survival: A Review and Update," Demography, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 481-506, May.
    16. Espinosa, Javier & Evans, William N., 2008. "Heightened mortality after the death of a spouse: Marriage protection or marriage selection?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1326-1342, September.

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