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Spousal Health Effects: The Role of Selection

In: Discoveries in the Economics of Aging

  • James Banks
  • Elaine Kelly
  • James P. Smith

In this paper, we investigate the issue of partner selection in the health of individuals who are at least fifty years old in England and the United States. We find a strong and positive association in family background variables including education of partners and their parents. Adult health behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and exercise are more positively associated in England compared to the United States. Childhood health indicators are also positively associated across partners. We also investigated pre and post partnership smoking behavior of couples. There exists strong positive assortative mating in smoking in that smokers are much more likely to partner with smokers and non-smokers with non-smokers. This relationship is far stronger in England compared to the United States. In the United States, we find evidence of asymmetric partner influence in smoking in that men's pre marriage smoking behavior influences his female partner's post marriage smoking behavior but there does not appear to be a parallel influence of women's pre-marriage smoking on their male partner's post-marital smoking. These relationships are much more parallel across genders in England.

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This chapter was published in:
  • David A. Wise, 2014. "Discoveries in the Economics of Aging," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise13-1, June.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12968.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12968
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    1. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Zoe Oldfield & James P. Smith, 2010. "Housing Mobility and Downsizing at Older Ages in Britain and the United States," Working Papers 787, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
    2. 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.
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