In Sickness and in Health: An Examination of Relationship Status and Health using Data from the Canadian National Public Health Survey

Susan L. Averett, Lafayette College
Laura M. Argys, University of Colorado, Denver
Julia Sorkin, Lafayette College

There is an extensive literature suggesting that marriage confers benefits to men and women in the form of improvements in mental and physical health and longevity. In this paper, we use longitudinal data from the Canadian National Public Health Survey to investigate the relationship between relationship status and several health-related behaviors and outcomes. Our work improves on previous research in several ways. First, we consider both marriage and cohabitation. Second, the Canadian data are an improvement over U.S. data because the confounding of marriage and health insurance in Canada is not an issue. Third, we use 12 years of data and a rich array of health outcomes. Our results indicate that married people (and to a lesser extent those who cohabit) are generally healthier and tend to smoke and drink less but they are also heavier and more likely to be classified as overweight or obese.

  See paper

Presented in Session 77: Families and Health