Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Born out of wedlock and never married--it breaks a man's heart


Author Info

  • Modin, Bitte
Registered author(s):


    This study examines whether men who were born outside marriage in early twentieth century Sweden run a higher risk of dying from ischaemic heart disease (IHD) in middle and old age compared to men who were born inside marriage. Analyses are based on the male half of the Uppsala Birth Cohort Study, Sweden, consisting of all 7411 boys who were born alive at the Uppsala Academic Hospital during the period 1915-1929. The statistical method used is Cox regression. The results demonstrated a statistically significant excess mortality among men born outside marriage, which could not be explained by either social class of origin or birth weight for gestational age. Instead, this elevated mortality was largely explained by the more than doubled mortality risk among those men born outside wedlock who never married in relation to the corresponding group of men born to married parents. Even when three indicators of adult socio-economic status were adjusted for, men who never married and were born outside marriage still ran a 93 per cent higher risk of dying from IHD than men who never married but were born inside marriage. This intervening effect of adult marital status was restricted to the category of never married men. Thus, although divorcees demonstrated an even higher mortality risk in relation to the married than did those who never married, this was equally true for men born inside and men born outside marriage. In the concluding section of the paper I argue that these findings should be understood in terms of the childhood social stigma that the illegitimate children experienced. This stigma may have resulted in an increased susceptibility, which in combination with the "failure" in adulthood to comply with the established norms of society regarding matrimony led to higher levels of IHD mortality in middle and old age.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Bibliographic Info

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

    Volume (Year): 57 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 3 (August)
    Pages: 487-501

    as in new window
    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:57:y:2003:i:3:p:487-501

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page:

    Order Information:

    Related research

    Keywords: Illegitimacy Ischaemic heart disease Marital status Mortality Sweden;


    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    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," IZA Discussion Papers 5454, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Frans Poppel & Niels Schenk & Ruben Gaalen, 2013. "Demographic Transitions and Changes in the Living Arrangements of Children: The Netherlands 1850–2010," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 243-260, April.
    3. Renzo Derosas & Marco Breschi & Alessio Fornasin & Matteo Manfredini & Cristina Munno, 2012. "Between Constraints and Coercion. Marriage and Social Reproduction in Northern and central Italy, 18th-19th Centuries," Working Papers 2012_02, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".


    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


    Access and download statistics


    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:57:y:2003:i:3:p:487-501. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.