The Effect of Divorce on Health in Middle and Older Ages

Alice Zulkarnain, CUNY Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR) and Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY)
Sanders Korenman, CUNY Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR)

Studies document health disadvantages for unmarried persons that differ by gender, health outcome, and non-marital state. Divorce is associated with ill health for men, but results for women are mixed. US studies have not estimated effects of marital status on health in mid-life using individual fixed effects in longitudinal data to control for selection, and have not compared the effects of divorce of husbands and their wives using couple fixed effects. Using Health and Retirement Study (1992-2010) data we find evidence of adverse effects of divorce on health for women, but modest (or no) effects for men. In models with individual fixed effects, divorce increases the probability of reporting “bad” health for women, but not men. Examining several diseases and conditions reveals associations between divorce and mental health. Models with couple fixed effects suggest greater adverse effects of divorce on physical and mental-health for wives compared to their husbands.

  See paper

Presented in Session 92: Gender, Marital Status, and Health