Is the Mortality Advantage Associated with Marriage Changing over Time?

Dejun Su, University of Texas-Pan American

Using data from the Union Army Sample (n=9,420) and the 1971-75 National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey Epidemiological Follow-up Sample (NHEFS) (n=2,682), this study examines the relation between marital status and risk of mortality among white male Americans during two periods: from 1900 to 1918, and from the early 1970s to 1992, with 18 years of follow-up in both samples. The results indicate that being married is associated with a sizable mortality advantage in both samples, but the advantage becomes more salient in the NHEFS, suggesting a growing mortality gap between the married and unmarried over time. It has also been found that over the course of the twentieth century marriages are becoming more selective in terms of height of males and less selective in terms of nativity. These two types of selections by marriage, however, cannot account for the observed mortality advantage associated with marriage in the two samples.

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Presented in Poster Session 2