Protection or Selection for Marital Transition and Self-Rated Health? Evidence from China

Li-Chung Hu, University of Pennsylvania

A large body of research has suggested that marriage has beneficial effects on health, but whether this benefit is due to causality or selection remains a subject of debate. Moreover, little attention has been paid to health-marriage links from developing countries, which may be characterized by distinct social norms and marriage markets. I analyze data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey to examine the connection between marital transition and self-rated health in the Chinese context. I consider marital protection and marital selection as competing hypothesis and adopt fixed-effects model to account for selection bias. Preliminary results suggest that never-married people and those transitioning into marriage reported poorer health than continuously married individuals, but this marital advantage is found only for men and not for women. The marital protective effect on health for men disappears after accounting for selection bias, suggesting that marital selection may account for the link between health and marriage in China.

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