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Marriage and Health: Selection, Protection, and Assortative Mating

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Abstract

Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), we analyze the health gap between married and unmarried individuals of working-age. Controlling for observables, we find a gap that peaks at 10 percentage points at ages 55-59. If we allow for unobserved heterogeneity in innate health (permanent and age-dependent), potentially correlated with timing and likelihood of marriage, we find that the effect of marriage on health disappears below age 40, while about 5 percentage points difference between married and unmarried individuals remains at older (55-59) ages. This indicates that the observed gap is mainly driven by selection into marriage at younger ages, but there might be a protective effect of marriage at older ages. Exploring the mechanisms behind this result, we find that better innate health is associated with a higher probability of marriage and a lower probability of divorce, and there is strong assortative mating among couples by innate health. We also find that married individuals are more likely to have a healthier behavior compared to unmarried ones. Finally, we find that health insurance is critical for the beneficial effect of marriage.

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  • Nezih Guner & Yuliya Kulikova & Joan Llull, 2016. "Marriage and Health: Selection, Protection, and Assortative Mating," Working Papers wp2016_1612, CEMFI.
  • Handle: RePEc:cmf:wpaper:wp2016_1612
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    2. Bünnings, Christian & Hafner, Lucas & Reif, Simon & Tauchmann, Harald, 2019. "In sickness and in health? Health shocks and relationship breakdown: Empirical evidence from Germany," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 03/2019, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    3. Cozzi, Guido & Francesconi, Marco & Lundberg, Shelly & Mantovan, Noemi & Sauer, Robert M., 2018. "Advancing the economics of gender: New insights and a roadmap for the future," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 1-8.
    4. Macchioni Giaquinto, Annarita & Jones, Andrew M. & Rice, Nigel & Zantomio, Francesca, 2021. "Labour supply and informal care responses to health shocks within couples: evidence from the UKHLS," GLO Discussion Paper Series 806, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    5. Allan, Rebecca & Williamson, Paul & Kulu, Hill, 2019. "Gendered mortality differentials over the rural-urban continuum: The analysis of census linked longitudinal data from England and Wales," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 221(C), pages 68-78.
    6. Mao, Fubing & Ma, Lijia & He, Qiang & Xiao, Gaoxi, 2020. "Match making in complex social networks," Applied Mathematics and Computation, Elsevier, vol. 371(C).
    7. Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2020. "On the relationship between body mass index and marital dissolution," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 326-340.
    8. DeLuca Bishop, Haylee K. & Claxton, Shannon E. & van Dulmen, Manfred H.M., 2019. "The romantic relationships of those who have experienced adoption or foster care: A meta-analysis," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 1-1.
    9. Jiaping Zhang & Mingwang Cheng & Xinyu Wei & Xiaomei Gong, 2018. "Does Mobile Phone Penetration Affect Divorce Rate? Evidence from China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(10), pages 1-19, October.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health; marriage; innate health; protective effect of marriage; assortative mating; panel data; grouped fixed-effects estimator.;
    All these keywords.

    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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