Advertisement

Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 295–312 | Cite as

Can’t We Just Live Together? New Evidence on the Effect of Relationship Status on Health

  • Jennifer L. KohnEmail author
  • Susan L. Averett
Original Paper

Abstract

There has been a large empirical literature on the effect of marriage on health, but scant empirical evidence on the effect of cohabitation on health, although cohabitation is increasingly common. We contributed to this literature in three ways. First we explicitly modeled cohabitation distinct from marriage. Second, we included lagged health in our models to address the dynamic process of health and health-related selection into relationships. Extant literature has failed to control for lagged health risking omitted variable bias. Rather, it has controlled for general unobservable heterogeneity using fixed effects models that have relied on limited variation in relationship status over time to identify the effect of relationship status on health. Third, we employed a continuous health index that aids in estimation and inference of dynamic models. Using the Blundell and Bond dynamic panel data estimator and 18 years of the British Household Panel Survey of nearly 18,000 adults, we found that being in a relationship is good for health, but the benefits are not unique to marriage. Our finding that cohabitation is as beneficial as marriage for health was good news for health policy as changing social norms and economic instability have delayed or impaired family formation.

Keywords

Dynamic panel data Health Marriage Cohabitation 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank participants at the Southern and Eastern Economic Association meetings and our colleagues for valuable comments. All errors are ours.

Conflict of interest

Neither author has any conflicts of interest associated with any external funding to disclose.

References

  1. Ali, M., & Ajiloare, O. (2011). Can marriage reduce risky health behaviors for African–Americans? Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 32, 191–203. doi: 10.1007/s10834-010-9242-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alm, J. R., & Whittington, L. (1999). For love or money? The impact of income taxes on marriage. Economica, 66, 297–316. doi: 10.1111/1468-0335.00172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Averett, S. L., Argys, L. M., & Kohn, J. L. (2013). Friends with health benefits: Does individual level social capital improve health? Working paper.Google Scholar
  4. Averett, S. L., Argys, L. M., & Sikora, A. (2008). For better or worse: Relationship status and body mass index. Economics and Human Biology, 6, 330–349. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2008.07.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Averett, S. L., Argys, L. M., & Sorkin, J. (2012). In sickness and in health: An examination of relationship status and health using data from the Canadian national public health survey. Review of Economics of the Household,. doi: 10.1007/s11150-012-9143-z.Google Scholar
  6. Bertrand, M., Pan, J., & Kamenica, E. (2013). Gender identity and relative income within households. NBER working paper No. 19023. Retrieved July 18, 2013 from http://www.nber.org/papers/w19023.
  7. Blundell, R., & Bond, S. (1998). Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models. Journal of Econometrics, 87, 115–143. doi: 10.1016/S0304-4076(98)00009-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bound, J. (1991). Self-reported versus objective measures of health in retirement models. The Journal of Human Resources, 26, 106–138. doi: 10.2307/145718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Case, A., & Paxson, C. (2005). Sex differences in morbidity and mortality. Demography, 42, 189–214. doi: 10.1353/dem.2005.0011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cherlin, A. J. (2004). The deinstitutionalization of American marriage. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66, 848–861. doi: 10.1111/j.0022-2445.2004.00058.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cheung, Y. B. (1998). Can marital selection explain the differences in health between married and divorced people? From a longitudinal study of a British birth cohort. Public Health, 112, 113–117. doi: 10.1038/sj.ph.1900428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cheung, Y. B. (2000). Marital status and mortality in British women: A longitudinal study. International Journal of Epidemiology, 29, 93–99. doi: 10.1093/ije/29.1.93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cheung, Y. B., & Sloggett, A. (1998). Health and adverse selection into marriage: Evidence from a study of the 1958 British Birth Cohort. Public Health, 112, 309–311. doi: 10.1038/sj.ph.1900491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chun, H., & Lee, I. (2001). Why do married men earn more: Productivity or marriage selection? Economic Inquiry, 39, 307–319. doi: 10.1093/ei/39.2.307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Contoyannis, P., Jones, A. M., & Rice, N. (2004). The dynamics of health in the British Household Panel Survey. Journal of Applied Econometrics, 19, 473–503. doi: 10.1002/jae.755.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Copen, C., Daniels, K., & Mosher, W. (2013) First premarital cohabitation in the United States: 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth. National Health Statistics Report, 64. Retrieved July 15, 2013 from www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr064.pdf.
  17. Couzin, J. (2009). Friendship as a health factor. Science, 23, 455–457. doi: 10.1126/science.323.5913.454.Google Scholar
  18. Deaton, A. (2002). Policy implications of the gradient of health and wealth. Health Affairs, 21(2), 13–30. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.21.2.13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. DeNavas-Walt, C., Proctor, B., & Smith, J. (2007). US Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P60-233, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  20. Duncan, G. J., Wilkerson, B., & England, P. (2006). Cleaning up their act: The effects of marriage and cohabitation on licit and illicit drug use. Demography, 43, 691–710. doi: 10.1353/dem.2006.0032.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ekert-Jaffe, O., & Solaz, A. (2001). Unemployment, marriage, and cohabitation in France. Journal of Socio-Economics, 30(1), 75–98. doi: 10.1016/S1053-5357(01)00088-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ermisch, J., & Francesconi, M. (2000). Cohabitation in Great Britain: Not for long, but here to stay. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), 163, 153–171. doi: 10.1111/1467-985X.00163.Google Scholar
  23. Fry, T. R. L., Mihajilo, S., Russell, R., & Brooks, R. (2008). The factors influencing saving in a matched savings program: Goals, knowledge of payment instruments, and other behavior. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 29, 234–250. doi: 10.1007/s10834-008-9106-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gardner, J., & Oswald, A. (2004). How is mortality affected by money, marriage, and stress?. Journal of Health Economics, 23, 1181–1207. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2004.03.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Greene, W. (2004). The behavior of the maximum likelihood estimator of limited dependent variable models in the presence of fixed effects. Econometrics Journal, 7, 98–119. doi: 10.1111/j.1368-423X.2004.00123.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Groot, W. (2000). Adaptation and scale of reference bias in self-assessment of quality of life. Journal of Health Economics, 19, 403–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gupta, D. N., Smith, N., & Stratton, L. S. (2007). Is marriage poisonous? Are relationships taxing? An analysis of the male marital wage differential in Denmark. Southern Economic Journal, 74, 412–433. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20111975.Google Scholar
  28. Gutierrez-Domenech, M. (2008). The impact of the labour market on the timing of marriage and births in Spain. Journal of Population Economics, 21(1), 83–110. doi: 10.1007/s00148-005-0041-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Haskey, J. (2001). Cohabitation in Great Britain: Past, present and future trends-and attitudes. Population Trends, 103, 4–25.Google Scholar
  30. Hernandez-Quevedo, C., Jones, A.M. & Rice, N. (2004). Reporting bias and heterogeneity in self-assessed health: Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey. University of York, Health Economics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Paper.Google Scholar
  31. Hersch, J., & Stratton, L. S. (2000). Household specialization and the male marriage wage premium. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 54, 78–94. doi: 10.2307/2696033.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jovanovic, Z., Lin, C. J., & Chang, C. H. (2003). Uninsured vs. insured population: Variations among nonelderly Americans. Journal of Health & Social Policy, 14, 71–85. doi: 10.1300/J045v17n03_05.Google Scholar
  33. Judson, R. A., & Owen, A. L. (1999). Estimating dynamic panel models: A practical guide for macroeconomists. Economics Letters, 65, 53–78. doi: 10.1016/S0165-1765(99)00130-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kohn, J. L. (2012). What is health? A multiple correspondence health index. Eastern Economic Journal, 38, 223–250. doi: 10.1057/eej.2011.5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kohn, J. L., & Patrick, R. H. (2010). Health and wealth: A dynamic demand for medical care. In iHEA 2007 6th World Congress: Explorations in Health Economics Paper. Accessed July 15, 2013 from SSRN http://ssrn.com/abstract=994723.
  36. Kumazawa, R., & Gomis-Porqueras, P. (2012). An empirical analysis of patents flows and R&D flows around the world. Applied Economics, 44, 4755–4763. doi: 10.1080/00036846.2010.528375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lancaster, T. (2000). The incidental parameters problem since 1948. Journal of Econometrics, 95, 391–414. doi: 10.1016/S0304-4076(99)00044-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lee, S., Cho, E., Grodstein, F., Kawachi, I., Hu, F. B., & Colditz, G. A. (2005). Effects of marital transitions on changes in dietary and other health behaviors in US women. International Journal of Epidemiology, 34, 69–78. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyh258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Light, A. (2004). Gender differences in the marriage and cohabitation income premium. Demography, 41, 263–284. doi: 10.1353/dem.2004.0016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lillard, L. A., & Panis, C. W. A. (1996). Marital status and mortality: The role of health. Demography, 33, 313–327. doi: 10.2307/2061764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Liu, H. (2012). Marital dissolution and self-rated health: Age trajectories and birth cohort variations. Social Science and Medicine, 24, 1107–1116. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.11.037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Liu, H., & Umberson, D. J. (2008). The times they are a changin’: Marital status and health differentials from 1972 to 2003. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 49, 239–253. doi: 10.1177/002214650804900301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mamun, A. (2012). Cohabitation premium in men’s earnings: Testing the joint human capital hypothesis. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 33(1), 53–68. doi: 10.1007/s10834-011-9252-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Meyer, M. H., & Pavalko, E. K. (1996). Family, work, and access to health insurance among mature women. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 47, 311–325. doi: 10.2307/2137259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Murasko, J. E. (2008). Married women’s labor supply and spousal health insurance coverage in the United States: Results from panel data. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 29(3), 391–406. doi: 10.1007/s10834-008-9119-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Musick, K., & Bumpass, L. (2011). Reexamining the case for marriage: Union formation and changes in well-being. Journal of Marriage and Family, 74, 1–18. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2011.00873.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nickell, S. (1981). Biases in dynamic models with fixed effects. Econometrica, 49, 1417–1426. doi: 10.2307/1911408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pevalin, D. J., & Ermisch, J. (2004). Cohabiting unions, repartnering and mental health. Psychological Medicine, 34, 1553–1559. doi: 10.1017/S0033291704002570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Picone, G. A., Sloan, F., & Trogdon, J. G. (2004). The effect of the tobacco settlement and smoking bans on alcohol consumption. Health Economics, 13, 1063–1080. doi: 10.1002/hec.930.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rogers, S. (2011). Marriage rates in the UK. The Guardian Data Blog. Retrieved June 3, 2012 from http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/feb/11/marriage-rates-uk-data.
  51. Roodman, D. (2009a). A note on the theme of too many instruments. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 71, 135–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Roodman, D. (2009b). How to do xtabond2: an introduction to ‘difference’ and ‘system’ GMM in STATA. Stata Journal, 9, 86–136.Google Scholar
  53. Saci, K., Giorgioni, G., & Holden, K. (2009). Does financial development affect growth? Applied Economics, 41, 1701–1707. doi: 10.1080/00036840701335538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Schulz, R., & Sherwood, P. R. (2008). Physical and mental health effects of family caregiving. Journal of Social Work Education, 44, 105–113. doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000336406.45248.4c.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Seltzer, J. A. (2004). Cohabitation in the United States and Britain: Demography, kinship, and the future. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66, 921–928. doi: 10.1111/j.0022-2445.2004.00062.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Semyonov, M., Lewin-Epstein, N., & Maskileyson, D. (2013). Where wealth matters more for health: The wealth–health gradient in 16 countries. Social Science and Medicine, 81, 10–17. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.01.010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Smallwood, S., & Wilson, B. (2007). Focus on families. Office of National Statistics, UK: Palgrave MacMillian. Accessed February 16, 2013 from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/04_10_07_families.pdf.
  58. Tamborini, C. R., Iams, H. M., & Reznik, G. L. (2012). Women’s earnings before and after marital dissolution: Evidence from longitudinal earnings records matched to survey data. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 33(1), 69–82. doi: 10.1007/s10834-011-9264-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Taylor, M. F. (ed). with Brice, J., Buck, N., & Prentice-Lane, E. (2009). British Household Panel Survey user manual volume A: Introduction, technical report and appendices. Colchester, UK: University of Essex.Google Scholar
  60. Thompson, M. E. (1994). Uses of NPHS in examining health behavior changes, with particular references to smoking cessation. Southwestern Ontario Research Data Center. University of Waterloo. Accessed February 16, 2013 from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/rdc-cdr/pdf/summ-somm-tho-eng.pdf.
  61. United Nations Statistics Division. (2006). Demographic yearbook. Accessed December 29, 2010 from http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/sconcerns/mar/mar2.htm.
  62. Vyas, S., & Kumaranayake, L. (2006). Constructing socio-economic status indices: How to use principal components analysis. Health Policy and Planning, 21, 459–468. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czl029.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wagstaff, A. (1993). The demand for health: An empirical reformulation of the Grossman model. Health Economics, 2, 189–198. doi: 10.1002/hec.4730020211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Waite, L. J. (1995). Does marriage matter? Demography, 32, 483–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Waite, L. J., & Gallagher, M. (2005). The case for marriage. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  66. Waldron, I., Hughes, M. E., & Brooks, T. L. (1996). Marriage protection and marriage selection—Prospective evidence for reciprocal effects of marital status and health. Social Science and Medicine, 43, 113–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wilson, C. M., & Oswald, A. J. (2005). How does marriage affect physical and psychological health? A survey of the longitudinal evidence. IZA discussion paper No. 1619.Google Scholar
  68. Wood, R.G., Goesling, B., & Avellar, S. (2007). The effects of marriage on health: A synthesis of recent research evidence. Mathematica Policy Research. Accessed February 16, 2013 from http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/07/marriageonhealth/index.htm.
  69. Wu, Z., & Hart, R. (2002). The effects of marital and nonmarital union transitions on health. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64, 420–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Wu, Z., Penning, M. J., Pollard, M. S., & Hart, R. (2003). In sickness and in health: Does cohabitation count? Journal of Family Issues, 24, 811–838.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Zimmer, D. M. (2007). Asymmetric effects of marital separation on health insurance among men and women. Contemporary Economic Policy, 25(1), 92–106. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-7287.2006.00032.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economics and Business StudiesDrew UniversityMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsLafayette CollegeEastonUSA

Personalised recommendations