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Spousal Health Effects

Spousal Health Effects

Chapter:
(p.255) 7 Spousal Health Effects
Source:
Discoveries in the Economics of Aging
Author(s):
James BanksElaine KellyJames P. Smith
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226146126.003.0008

In this paper, we investigate the issue of partner selection in the health of individuals who are at least fifty years old in England and the United States. We find a strong and positive association in family background variables including education of partners and their parents. Adult health behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and exercise are more positively associated in England compared to the United States. Childhood health indicators are also positively associated across partners. We also investigated pre and post partnership smoking behavior of couples. There exists strong positive assortative mating in smoking in that smokers are much more likely to partner with smokers and nonsmokers with nonsmokers. This relationship is far stronger in England compared to the United States. In the United States, we find evidence of asymmetric partner influence in smoking in that men's pre marriage smoking behavior influences his female partner's post marriage smoking behavior but there does not appear to be a parallel influence of women's premarriage smoking on their male partner's postmarital smoking. These relationships are much more parallel across genders in England.

Keywords:   spousal health effects, smoking behavior, drinking behavior, exercise behavior, positive assortative mating, asymmetric partner influence, postmarital influence

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