Can Marriage Reduce Risky Behavior for African-Americans?
Olugbenga Ajilore, University of Toledo
Mir Ali, University of Toledo
This paper estimates whether marriage can improve health outcomes for African Americans through changes in risky behaviors. A large part of chronic health conditions are the result of engaging in risky behaviors like smoking and drinking. The literature has shown that marriage has positive effects on addictive behavior. However, what is missing in the literature is whether this is true for African Americans. Using propensity score matching to account for the potential selection bias with a sample created from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), the results show that marriage does lead to lower risky behavior, but cohabitation actually leads to more risky behavior. This question has important policy implications, because if marriage has the same benefits for African Americans as it does for the general population, social welfare programs can be re-evaluated to incorporate marriage promotion and further support can be given to programs that decrease adverse health behaviors.