Partnership History and Health and Mortality in Later Life: An Analysis of Record Linkage Data from England & Wales

Emily Grundy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Cecilia Tomassini, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Sabya Farooq, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

The literature on links between marital status and health shows an advantage for the married, with the never-married generally the most disadvantaged, although results for older women, are not clear cut. Fewer studies have examined the effect of marital history on health in mid and later life. We use data from the ONS Longitudinal Study, a record linkage study of 1% of the population of England & Wales, to analyze relationships between partnership history and health over a period spanning three decades (1971-2001). Marital history data comes from retrospective information collected in 1971; current status data collected in 1971, 1981, 1991 & 2001; and linked event data on widow/widowerhood. Those in cohabiting unions can also be identified. We analyze differentials in mortality 1991-2001 and, for survivors, differentials in health status in 2001, by partnership and socio-demographic history 1971-1991. Results show the importance of life course, rather than just current status, effects.

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Presented in Session 53: Marital Status, Partnership Status, and Health