IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Effects of spouses' socioeconomic characteristics on mortality among men and women in a Norwegian longitudinal study

Listed author(s):
  • Skalická, Vera
  • Kunst, Anton E.
Registered author(s):

    A partner's socioeconomic characteristics can influence one's own health. Nevertheless, little is known about the relative importance of a partner's education, occupation and income in relation to inequalities in mortality. In this study, we consider the relative contribution of these three spouse characteristics to predicting general and cause-specific mortality in men and women. Data on married persons and their spouses were taken from a Norwegian cross-sectional survey of a total county population (the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study, HUNT 1, 1984-1986). A mortality follow-up was maintained until 2003. Associations of mortality with socioeconomic indicators were assessed computing hazard ratios and Relative Index of Inequality in Cox regression. In women, a clear gradient in age-adjusted mortality rates was observed according to all husband's characteristics. In men, wife's education was most consistently associated with their mortality. After mutual adjustment for all own and spouse's socioeconomic characteristics, the effect of husband's education on women's overall mortality diminished (HR 1.07), whereas the effects of husband's occupation and income remained of similarly moderate size (HR 1.12). Wife's education persisted after adjustment as a significant and strong predictor of men's all-cause mortality (HR 1.35). Effects of partner's characteristics were mostly pronounced in cardiovascular mortality and far less in cancer mortality. In men, wife's education was the strongest and only predictor of mortality across all causes of death examined, except stroke. In women, husband's occupation was mainly related to ischemic heart disease and lung cancer mortality, while husband's income influenced mainly stroke mortality. Wife's education and husband's occupation and income were the most important predictors of mortality across partner relationships. It is suggested that men contribute to their wives' health not only by means of financial security, but also through occupational class. Further research should test our hypothesis that the effect of husband's occupation on their spouses works through occupation-related lifestyle and social prestige.

    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.

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

    Volume (Year): 66 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 9 (May)
    Pages: 2035-2047

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:66:y:2008:i:9:p:2035-2047
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Order Information: Postal:

    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.:

    in new window

    1. Martelin, Tuija, 1994. "Mortality by indicators of socioeconomic status among the finnish elderly," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 38(9), pages 1257-1278, May.
    2. Lewis, Megan A. & McBride, Colleen M. & Pollak, Kathryn I. & Puleo, Elaine & Butterfield, Rita M. & Emmons, Karen M., 2006. "Understanding health behavior change among couples: An interdependence and communal coping approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(6), pages 1369-1380, March.
    3. West, Patrick, 1991. "Rethinking the health selection explanation for health inequalities," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 373-384, January.
    4. Bartley, M & Martikainen, P & Shipley, M & Marmot, M, 2004. "Gender differences in the relationship of partner's social class to behavioural risk factors and social support in the Whitehall II study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(9), pages 1925-1936, November.
    5. McNeill, Lorna Haughton & Kreuter, Matthew W. & Subramanian, S.V., 2006. "Social Environment and Physical activity: A review of concepts and evidence," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 1011-1022, August.
    6. Neal Krause & Benjamin A. Shaw, 2000. "Giving Social Support to Others, Socioeconomic Status, and Changes in Self-Esteem in Late Life," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 55(6), pages 323-333.
    7. Arber, Sara, 1997. "Comparing inequalities in women's and men's health: Britain in the 1990s," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(6), pages 773-787, March.
    8. Wilson, Sven E., 2002. "The health capital of families: an investigation of the inter-spousal correlation in health status," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 55(7), pages 1157-1172, October.
    9. Jaffe, Dena H. & Eisenbach, Zvi & Neumark, Yehuda D. & Manor, Orly, 2006. "Effects of husbands' and wives' education on each other's mortality," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(8), pages 2014-2023, April.
    10. Chandola, Tarani, 1998. "Social inequality in coronary heart disease: a comparison of occupational classifications," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 525-533, August.
    11. von dem Knesebeck, Olaf & Verde, Pablo E. & Dragano, Nico, 2006. "Education and health in 22 European countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(5), pages 1344-1351, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:66:y:2008:i:9:p:2035-2047. 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.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.