For Better and for Worse: The Relationship Between Union Dissolution and Self-Assessed Health in European Panel Data

Pour le meilleur et pour le pire: la relation entre les dissolutions d’union et la santé perçue à partir des données d’un panel européen
Article

Abstract

We investigate the association between union dissolution and self-assessed health in European panel data. Previous studies suggest that this association might be negative, yet it is unclear to what extent this reflects causation (an effect of union dissolution of health) and/or selection (an effect of health on union dissolution). We analyzed the relationship between self-assessed health and 3,894 union dissolutions in about 60,000 respondents aged 18–59 across eight waves of the European Community Household Panel (ECHP). Fixed-effect panel analyses show that the negative association between dissolution and self-assessed health is not due to a general negative effect of divorce on health. Rather, after union dissolution self-assessed health improves among some individuals, while for others it declines. Compared to being in a union continuously, union dissolution seems to cause increases and decreases in health. We also find evidence for a negative effect of self-assessed health on dissolution risks. This selection effect appears to be associated with being in poor self-assessed health for a prolonged period of time rather than by the immediate effect of a health decline. Our results support the idea that the association between union dissolution and self-assessed health is an outcome of both causation and selection and that the effect of union dissolution on self-assessed health is heterogeneous.

Keywords

Union dissolution Divorce Self-assessed health Panel data Fixed-effects models Event-history analysis Europe 

Résumé

Nous examinons l’association entre les dissolutions d’union et la santé perçue à partir de données d’un panel européen. Des études antérieures suggèrent que cette association pourrait être négative mais on ignore dans quelle mesure elle reflète une relation causale (l’impact du divorce sur la santé) et/ou un effet de sélection (l’impact de la santé sur le divorce). La relation entre la santé perçue et 3.894 divorces parmi environ 60.000 répondants âgés de 18 à 59 ans dans les huit vagues du Panel communautaire européen des ménages (European Community Household Panel (ECHP)) a été étudiée. Des analyses du panel utilisant des modèles à effets fixes montrent que l’association négative entre dissolution d’union et santé perçue n‘est pas la conséquence d’un effet général négatif du divorce sur la santé. Au contraire, après une dissolution d’union, la santé perçue s’améliore pour certains individus alors qu’elle se détériore pour d‘autres. Comparés à ceux qui restent en union, la dissolution d’union semble susciter une amélioration ou une dégradation de la santé. Nous trouvons également des preuves d’un impact négatif de la santé perçue sur les risques de dissolution. Cet effet de sélection semble être associé au fait d‘avoir connu une mauvaise santé perçue pendant une période de longue durée plutôt qu’à l’effet immédiat d’un déclin de l’état de santé. Nos résultats appuient l’idée que l’association entre la dissolution d’union et la santé perçue résulte tant d’un effet causal que d’un effet de sélection et que l’impact de la dissolution d’union est hétérogène.

Mots-clés

Dissolution d’union divorce Santé perçue Données de panel Modèle à effets fixes Analyse des biographies Europe 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Earlier versions were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America (Washington), the Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research (Manchester), and the Annual Meeting of the Dutch Sociological Association (Rotterdam). We are grateful to participants at these events, for comments and suggestions. We thank the reviewers and the editors of the European Journal of Population for their helpful suggestions.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christiaan W. S. Monden
    • 1
  • Wilfred J. G. Uunk
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of SociologyTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands

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