, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 81-93

Linked lives, dependent demise? Survival analysis of husbands and wives

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Past research has found that married individuals have substantially lower risks of mortality than their single counterparts. This paper examines how household characteristics affect spouses’ risks of mortality. A paired hazard rate model is estimated and tests are made to ascertain whether the estimated coefficients associated with risk factors differ between husbands’ and wives’ equations. Cigarette smoking, risk-avoidance behavior, poverty, and children are found to affect wives’ and husbands’ mortality in similar ways. Divorce, which can be interpreted as the termination of this shared household environment, is found to affect spouses differently.

The research reported here was funded in part by a National Science Foundation grant to the University of Michigan to support event-history analyses using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. David Huth has provided invaluable computer programming assistance on this project. We benefited from the helpful comments of Jim Lepkowski, DanYu Lin, Nancy Tuma, and Sally McClean. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the 1991 annual meetings of the Population Association of America held in Washington, DC, and The 1991 Panel Study of Income Dynamics Event-History Conference held at Stanford University.