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Comparing the benefits of cohabitation and marriage for health in mid-life: Is the relationship similar across countries?

Perelli-Harris, Brienna, STYRC, MARTA E, Addo, Fenaba, Hoherz, Stefanie, Lappegard, Trude, Sassler, Sharon and Evans, Ann , Mcgowan, Teresa (ed.) (2017) Comparing the benefits of cohabitation and marriage for health in mid-life: Is the relationship similar across countries? , University of Southampton ESRC Centre for Population Change 38pp. (ESRC Centre for Population Change Working Paper Series, 84, 84).

Record type: Monograph (Working Paper)


Extensive research has found that marriage provides health benefits to individuals. The rise of cohabitation, however, raises questions about whether simply being in an intimate co-residential partnership conveys the same health benefits as marriage. Here we use OLS regression to compare differences between cohabitation and marriage with respect to self-rated health in mid-life, an understudied part of the lifecourse. We pay particular attention to selection mechanisms arising in childhood to investigate how early life conditions shape later life outcomes. We compare results in five countries with different social, economic, and policy contexts. Results show no differences in self-rated health between cohabiting and married people in Norway, Germany, and for Australian women. In the U.K, and U.S., and for Australian men, however, marriage is significantly associated with better health. Much of this association disappears when accounting for childhood disadvantage and union duration in the U.S., Australia, and for British women, but differences persist for British men. Our study indicates that early life conditions can be an important source of selection for explaining marriage benefits, and that policy makers should focus on reducing disadvantage in childhood rather than legislating incentives to marry in adulthood.

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Published date: 1 June 2017
Organisations: Social Statistics & Demography, Centre for Population Change


Local EPrints ID: 410974
PURE UUID: b34d6da3-ea8c-408b-9be1-b4f1f39436c7

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Date deposited: 12 Jun 2017 16:31
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 13:32

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Author: Fenaba Addo
Author: Stefanie Hoherz
Author: Trude Lappegard
Author: Sharon Sassler
Author: Ann Evans
Editor: Teresa Mcgowan

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