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Do marriage and cohabitation provide benefits to health in mid-life?: the role of childhood selection mechanisms and partnership characteristics across countries

Do marriage and cohabitation provide benefits to health in mid-life?: the role of childhood selection mechanisms and partnership characteristics across countries
Do marriage and cohabitation provide benefits to health in mid-life?: the role of childhood selection mechanisms and partnership characteristics across countries
Extensive research has found that marriage provides health benefits to individuals, particularly in the U.S. 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 partnered and unpartnered, and cohabiting and married individuals 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 and characteristics of the partnership. We compare results in five countries with different social, economic, and policy contexts: the U.S. (NLSY), U.K. (UKHLS), Australia (HILDA), Germany (SOEP), and Norway (GGS). Results show that living with a partner is positively associated with self-rated health in mid-life in all countries, but that controlling for children, prior separation, and current socio-economic status eliminates differences in Germany and Norway. Significant differences between cohabitation and marriage are only evident in the U.S. and the U.K., but controlling for childhood background, union duration, and prior union dissolution eliminates partnership differentials. The findings suggest that cohabitation in the U.S. and U.K., both liberal welfare regimes, seems to be very different than in the other countries. The results challenge the assumption that only marriage is beneficial for health.
0167-5923
1-26
Perelli-Harris, Brienna
9d3d6b25-d710-480b-8677-534d58ebe9ed
Hoherz, Stefanie
97bd0db7-6f2f-4897-a8af-a8accd3ba73e
Addo, Fenaba
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Lappegard, Trude
7e588c7c-0a03-4d92-8a79-6b0e2be0a42f
Evans, Ann
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Sassler, Sharon
935cc9f0-03c1-4393-b825-9f7257aeb533
Styrc, Marta
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Perelli-Harris, Brienna
9d3d6b25-d710-480b-8677-534d58ebe9ed
Hoherz, Stefanie
97bd0db7-6f2f-4897-a8af-a8accd3ba73e
Addo, Fenaba
9a72c4e3-a156-4267-9921-795ad279a1d0
Lappegard, Trude
7e588c7c-0a03-4d92-8a79-6b0e2be0a42f
Evans, Ann
a1c7e888-8890-4988-89c4-8dd18e0e260b
Sassler, Sharon
935cc9f0-03c1-4393-b825-9f7257aeb533
Styrc, Marta
52dfef8b-7d07-49e8-b84f-43efa9464709

Perelli-Harris, Brienna, Hoherz, Stefanie, Addo, Fenaba, Lappegard, Trude, Evans, Ann, Sassler, Sharon and Styrc, Marta (2018) Do marriage and cohabitation provide benefits to health in mid-life?: the role of childhood selection mechanisms and partnership characteristics across countries. Population Research and Policy Review, 1-26. (doi:10.1007/s11113-018-9467-3).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Extensive research has found that marriage provides health benefits to individuals, particularly in the U.S. 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 partnered and unpartnered, and cohabiting and married individuals 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 and characteristics of the partnership. We compare results in five countries with different social, economic, and policy contexts: the U.S. (NLSY), U.K. (UKHLS), Australia (HILDA), Germany (SOEP), and Norway (GGS). Results show that living with a partner is positively associated with self-rated health in mid-life in all countries, but that controlling for children, prior separation, and current socio-economic status eliminates differences in Germany and Norway. Significant differences between cohabitation and marriage are only evident in the U.S. and the U.K., but controlling for childhood background, union duration, and prior union dissolution eliminates partnership differentials. The findings suggest that cohabitation in the U.S. and U.K., both liberal welfare regimes, seems to be very different than in the other countries. The results challenge the assumption that only marriage is beneficial for health.

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Accepted/In Press date: 3 April 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 23 April 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 420562
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/420562
ISSN: 0167-5923
PURE UUID: 88513953-98e0-435f-8770-092b6fb90bf1
ORCID for Brienna Perelli-Harris: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8234-4007

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Date deposited: 10 May 2018 16:30
Last modified: 17 Dec 2019 01:40

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