Is Marriage a Protective State? A Longitudinal Study of Families' Demand for Health Care

Valeria Bordone, University of Mannheim
Volker Ludwig, University of Mannheim

Married people show lower mortality, lower morbidity and better health than their unmarried counterparts. However, most of the existing evidence is unconfirmed due to lack of adequate data and limitations of methods. Moreover, the mechanism through which marriage might protect individuals’ health is not clear. The authors try to identify causal pathways for the link between marriage and health by looking at changes of health care use after entry into first marriage. Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, the frequency of visits to a doctor and the probability of hospitalization are analyzed in a fixed effects estimation framework. Results indicate that marriage may prevent serious illness by increasing regular contact with the health system. Once they are married, people go to the doctor more often. For women, health benefits arise mainly through childbirth while men may profit more directly from support and control of a spouse.

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Presented in Session 77: Families and Health