Historical Trends in Health Differentials by Marital Status in the United States: 1982-2002

Hui Liu, University of Texas at Austin

Little research has attempted to explore trends of the association between marital status and health even though there are reasonable theoretical grounds for expecting the change in this association over time. I provide both empirical and theoretical evidence showing that this association changed during the second demographic transition. Based on pooled 21 years’ NHIS, I find that the married became healthier across 1982-2002 because their socio-demographic composition became more health favorable. After netting of those sociodemographic changes the health status of the married worsened across 1982-2002. The health of the divorced and separated worsened even more rapidly, leading to divergent trends between the married and divorced/separated favoring the married. The health status of the never married also worsened over these two decades but at a slower rate than the married, which led to a convergent trend of the health difference between the never married and married, especially for African Americans.

  See paper

Presented in Poster Session 5: Health, Mortality, Aging, Biology