For better or worse: Relationship status and body mass index
Recent increases in the incidence of obesity and declines in marriage have prompted policymakers to implement policies to mitigate these trends. This paper examines the link between these two outcomes. There are four hypotheses (selection, protection, social obligation and marriage market) that might explain the relationship between marital status transitions and changes in Body Mass Index (BMI). The selection hypothesis suggests that those with a lower BMI are more likely to be selected into marriage. The protection hypothesis states that married adults will have better physical health as a result of the increased social support and reduced incidence of risky behavior among married individuals. The social obligation hypothesis states that those in relationships may eat more regular meals and/or richer and denser foods due to social obligations which may arise because of marriage. Finally, the marriage market hypothesis indicates that when adults are no longer in the marriage market they may not maintain a healthy BMI because doing so is costly and they are in a stable union--or on the other hand, adults may enhance their prospects in the marriage market by losing weight. Taking advantage of longitudinal data and complete marriage histories in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, we estimate individual fixed effects models to examine associations between the change in log BMI and the incidence of overweight and obesity, and changes in relationship status controlling for the effects of aging and other respondent characteristics. We find no support for the marriage protection hypothesis. Rather we find evidence supporting the social obligation and marriage market hypotheses--BMI increases for both men and women during marriage and in the course of a cohabiting relationship. Separate analyses by race and ethnicity reveal substantial differences in the response of BMI to relationship status across these groups.
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.
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.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Chun, Hyunbae & Lee, Injae, 2001. "Why Do Married Men Earn More: Productivity or Marriage Selection?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(2), pages 307-319, April.
- Datta Gupta, Nabanita & Smith, Nina & Stratton, Leslie S., 2005.
"Is Marriage Poisonous? Are Relationships Taxing? An Analysis of the Male Marital Wage Differential in Denmark,"
IZA Discussion Papers
1591, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Nabanita Datta Gupta & Nina Smith & Leslie S. Stratton, 2007. "Is Marriage Poisonous? Are Relationships Taxing? An Analysis of the Male Marital Wage Differential in Denmark," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 412-433, October.
- Burkhauser, Richard V. & Cawley, John, 2008.
"Beyond BMI: The value of more accurate measures of fatness and obesity in social science research,"
Journal of Health Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 519-529, March.
- John Cawley & Richard V. Burkhauser, 2006. "Beyond BMI: The Value of More Accurate Measures of Fatness and Obesity in Social Science Research," NBER Working Papers 12291, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Lee Lillard & Constantijn Panis, 1996. "Marital status and mortality: The role of health," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 33(3), pages 313-327, August.
- Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001.
"Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA,"
The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS)
616, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
- Waldron, Ingrid & Hughes, Mary Elizabeth & Brooks, Tracy L., 1996. "Marriage protection and marriage selection--Prospective evidence for reciprocal effects of marital status and health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 113-123, July.
- Joni Hersch & Leslie S. Stratton, 2000. "Household Specialization and the Male Marriage Wage Premium," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(1), pages 78-94, October.
- Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1.
- Kate Antonovics & Robert Town, 2004. "Are All the Good Men Married? Uncovering the Sources of the Marital Wage Premium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 317-321, May.
- Leslie S. Stratton, 2002. "Examining the Wage Differential for Married and Cohabiting Men," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(2), pages 199-212, April.
- Audrey Light, 2003.
"Gender Differences in the Marriage and Cohabitation Income Premium,"
03-04, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
- Audrey Light, 2004. "Gender differences in the marriage and cohabitation income premium," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(2), pages 263-284, May.
- Sobal, Jeffery & Rauschenbach, Barbara & Frongillo, Edward A., 2003. "Marital status changes and body weight changes: a US longitudinal analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(7), pages 1543-1555, April.
- Daniel Lichter & Zhenchao Qian & Leanna Mellott, 2006. "Marriage or dissolution? Union transitions among poor cohabiting women," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(2), pages 223-240, May.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:6:y:2008:i:3:p:330-349. 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: (Dana Niculescu)
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.