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How Does Marriage Affect Physical and Psychological Health? A Survey of the Longitudinal Evidence

  • Wilson, Chris M.


    (University of East Anglia)

  • Oswald, Andrew J.


    (University of Warwick)

This paper examines an accumulating modern literature on the health benefits of relationships like marriage. Although much remains to be understood about the physiological channels, we draw the judgment, after looking across many journals and disciplines, that there is persuasive longitudinal evidence for such effects. The size of the health gain from marriage is remarkable. It may be as large as the benefit from giving up smoking.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1619.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: May 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1619
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  1. Costa Dora L., 1993. "Height, Weight, Wartime Stress, and Older Age Mortality: Evidence from the Union Army Records," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 424-449, October.
  2. Chun, Hyunbae & Lee, Injae, 2001. "Why Do Married Men Earn More: Productivity or Marriage Selection?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(2), pages 307-19, April.
  3. 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.
  4. Di Tella, R. & MacCulloch, R.J.: Oswald, A.J., 1997. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," Papers 19, Centre for Economic Performance & Institute of Economics.
  5. Cem Mete, 2005. "Predictors of elderly mortality:health status, socioeconomic characteristics and social determinants of health," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(2), pages 135-148.
  6. Andrew E. Clark & Ed Diener & Yannis Georgellis & Richard E. Lucas, 2008. "Lags and Leads in Life Satisfaction: A Test of the Baseline Hypothesis," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 84, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  7. Sobal, Jeffery & Rauschenbach, Barbara & Frongillo, Edward A., 2003. "Marital status changes and body weight changes: a US longitudinal analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(7), pages 1543-1555, April.
  8. Lillard, L.A. & Waite, L.J., 1993. "'Til Death Do Us Part: Marital Disruption and Mortality," Papers 93-10, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  9. Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew J., 2005. "Do Divorcing Couples Become Happier By Breaking Up?," IZA Discussion Papers 1788, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Lee Lillard & Constantijn Panis, 1996. "Marital status and mortality: The role of health," Demography, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 313-327, August.
  11. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2004. "Money, Sex and Happiness: An Empirical Study," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(3), pages 393-415, October.
  12. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," NBER Working Papers 7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Stutzer, Alois & Frey, Bruno S., 2005. "Does Marriage Make People Happy, Or Do Happy People Get Married?," IZA Discussion Papers 1811, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Umberson, Debra, 1992. "Gender, marital status and the social control of health behavior," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 907-917, April.
  15. Eng Seng Loh, 1996. "Productivity Differences and the Marriage Wage Premium for White Males," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(3), pages 566-589.
  16. Reed, W Robert & Harford, Kathleen, 1989. "The Marriage Premium and Compensating Wage Differentials," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 2(4), pages 237-65.
  17. Ren, Xinhua Steve, 1997. "Marital status and quality of relationships: The impact on health perception," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 241-249, January.
  18. Linda J. Waite & Evelyn L. Lehrer, 2003. "The Benefits from Marriage and Religion in the United States: A Comparative Analysis," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 29(2), pages 255-275.
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