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Marriage, bereavement and mortality: The role of health care utilization

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  • Simeonova, Emilia

Abstract

There is ample evidence that bereavement is associated with heightened mortality. Regardless of whether this strong association is truly causal, little is known about the factors contributing to it. This study begins to unpack the black box of the bereavement–mortality puzzle by investigating the extent to which heath behaviors and health care utilization patterns vary among chronically ill elderly males living with a spouse and those who are widowed, and by asking whether these differences contribute to the well-documented correlation between widowhood and health deterioration. In order to separate the effect of health care utilization from other potential channels it uses a unique dataset of doctor–patient encounters that allows in-depth analysis of the organization and effectiveness of medical care. Changes in health care utilization attributable to bereavement have a negative effect on survival but account for a small part of the overall negative effect of widowhood on longevity.

Suggested Citation

  • Simeonova, Emilia, 2013. "Marriage, bereavement and mortality: The role of health care utilization," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 33-50.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:32:y:2013:i:1:p:33-50
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2012.10.010
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew, 2004. "How is mortality affected by money, marriage, and stress?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 1181-1207, November.
    2. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lindeboom, Maarten & Portrait, France, 2011. "Conjugal bereavement effects on health and mortality at advanced ages," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 774-794, July.
    3. 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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    5. Cameron,A. Colin & Trivedi,Pravin K., 2008. "Microeconometrics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9787111235767.
    6. Sergei Koulayev & Niels Skipper & Emilia Simeonova, 2013. "Who Is in Control? The Determinants of Patient Adherence with Medication Therapy," NBER Working Papers 19496, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    8. Susan L. Ettner, 1996. "The Opportunity Costs of Elder Care," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(1), pages 189-205.
    9. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-846, July-Aug..
    10. Michael Grossman, 1999. "The Human Capital Model of the Demand for Health," NBER Working Papers 7078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

    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 10:59:52

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:26:y:2017:i:c:p:1-12 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Bernhard Schmidpeter, 2015. "The Fatal Consequences of Grief," Economics working papers 2015-06, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    3. repec:jku:cdlwps:2015_07 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Bernhard Schmidpeter, 2015. "The Fatal Consequences of Grief," CDL Aging, Health, Labor working papers 2015-07, The Christian Doppler (CD) Laboratory Aging, Health, and the Labor Market, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Marriage; Health care; Bereavement; Adherence;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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