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Does Marriage Make You Healthier?

Author

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  • Nezih Guner
  • Yuliya Kulikova
  • Joan Llull

Abstract

We use the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) to study the relationship between marriage and health for working-age (20 to 64) individuals. In both data sets married agents are healthier than unmarried ones, and the health gap between married and unmarried agents widens by age. After controlling for observables, a gap of about 12 percentage points in self-reported health persists for ages 55-59. We estimate the marriage health gap non-parametrically as a function of age. If we allow for unobserved heterogeneity in innate permanent health, potentially correlated with timing and likelihood of marriage, we find that the effect of marriage on health disappears at younger (20-39) ages, while about 6 percentage points difference between married and unmarried individuals, about half of the total gap, remains at older (55-59) ages. These results indicate that association between marriage and health is mainly driven by selection into marriage at younger ages, while there might be a protective effect of marriage at older ages. We analyze how selection and protective effects of marriage show up in the data.

Suggested Citation

  • Nezih Guner & Yuliya Kulikova & Joan Llull, 2014. "Does Marriage Make You Healthier?," Working Papers 795, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:795
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & Georgi Kocharkov & Cezar Santos, 2014. "Marry Your Like: Assortative Mating and Income Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 348-353, May.
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    1. repec:spr:demogr:v:55:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s13524-018-0650-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Margherita Borella & Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French, 2016. "Who Receives Medicaid in Old Age? Rules and Reality," NBER Working Papers 21873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Sch√ľnemann, Johannes & Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2017. "The marriage gap: Optimal aging and death in partnerships," ECON WPS - Vienna University of Technology Working Papers in Economic Theory and Policy 04/2017, Vienna University of Technology, Institute for Mathematical Methods in Economics, Research Group Economics (ECON).
    4. repec:spr:eurpop:v:34:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10680-017-9423-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Bijwaard, Govert & Alessie, Rob & Angelini, Viola, 2018. "The Effect of Early Life Health on Later Life Home Care Use: The Mediating Role of Household Composition," IZA Discussion Papers 11729, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health; marriage; selection;

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General

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