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The gender longevity gap: explaining the difference between singles and couples


This paper studies the respective gender longevity gap in favour of women among singles, utilitarian and altruistic couples. The following hypotheses are derived: (1) the gender longevity gap is smaller within couples than among singles; (2) marriage increases longevity of men but decreases longevity of women; and (3) the gender longevity gap decreases with an increase in wealth. The hypotheses are tested using a complete data set of the Swiss deceased at the age 65+ in 2001 and 2002, with information on the individuals’ age at death and their average earnings over the life cycle.

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I would like to thank François Donini and Nicolas Eschmann from the Swiss Federal Social Insurance Office (OASI) in Berne for making the data set available to me and Andreas Werblow for technical assistance. Helpful comments and suggestions by Friedrich Breyer and Mathias Kifmann (University of Konstanz), Werner Gredig (OASI), Bernt-Peter Robra (University of Magdeburg), Peter Zweifel (University of Zurich) and the journal’s referee are gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Stefan Felder.

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Responsible editor: Junsen Zhang

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Felder, S. The gender longevity gap: explaining the difference between singles and couples. J Popul Econ 19, 543–557 (2006).

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  • Longevity
  • Gender
  • Value of life

JEL Classification

  • I12
  • J16