Divorce and health in middle and older ages

  • Alice ZulkarnainEmail author
  • Sanders Korenman


The prevalence and incidence of divorce at older ages have doubled since 1990. We use Health and Retirement Study data to describe associations between divorce, remarriage and health in middle and later life, following individuals and couples through divorce and remarriage in models with individual or couple fixed effects. At middle and older ages, divorce is more often associated with adverse physical and mental health changes for women than for men. Remarriage is associated with a restoration of health and depression to pre-divorce levels for men and women. However, men are more likely to remarry. Evidence from couple models suggests that for husbands, but not wives, remarriage may be associated with less depression than the baseline marriage. Differences in self-reported health associated with divorce appear linked to (diagnosed) mental health conditions among wives and physical health conditions among husbands.


Divorce Remarriage Aging Self-Reported Health Mental Health Couples Fixed effects 


J12 J14 I12 



The HRS (Health and Retirement Study) is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (grant number NIA U01AG009740) and is conducted by the University of Michigan. We use the RAND HRS Data, Version M. Produced by the RAND Center for the Study of Aging, with funding from the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration. Santa Monica, CA (September 2013)). The views expressed in this paper are the views of the authors and do not reflect the views of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. We thank Jennifer Kohn for discussion and comments, as well as participants in the doctoral student workshop at the CUNY Graduate Center and the CUNY Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR) seminar. This work as initiated when Zulkarnain was a CIDR Demography Fellow.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Retirement Research at Boston CollegeChestnut HillUSA
  2. 2.Marxe School of Public & International Affairs, Baruch CollegeCUNYNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.CUNY Institute for Demographic ResearchNew YorkUSA

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