, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 233–250 | Cite as

Mortality Differentials by Marital Status: An International Comparison

  • Yuanreng Hu
  • Noreen Goldman


Although the greater longevity of married people as compared with unmarried persons has been demonstrated repeatedly, there have been very few studies of a comparative nature. We use log-linear rate models to analyze marital-status-specific death rates for a large number of developed countries. The results indicate that divorced persons, especially divorced men, have the highest death rates among the unmarried groups of the respective genders; the excess mortality of unmarried persons relative to the married has been generally increasing over the past two to three decades; and divorced and widowed persons in their twenties and thirties have particularly high risks of dying, relative to married persons of the same age. In addition, the analysis suggests that a selection process is operating with regard to single and divorced persons: the smaller the proportion of persons who never marry or who are divorced, the higher the resulting death rates.


Marital Status Excess Mortality Single Person Mortality Differential Fourth Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baker, R. J., & Neider, J. A. (1978). The CUM Manual: Release 3. Oxford, UK: Numerical Algorithms Group.Google Scholar
  2. Bishop, Y. M., Fienberg, S. E., & Holland, R W. (1975). Discrete Multivariate Analysis: Theory and Practice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  3. Cox, P. R., & Ford, J. R. (1964). “The Mortality of Widows Shortly After Widowhood.” Lancet, 1, 163–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fox, A. J., & Goldblatt, P. O. (1982). Longitudinal Study: Sociodemographic Mortality Differentials, Ser. LS, No. 1. London: Office of Population Censuses and Surveys.Google Scholar
  5. Gove, W. R. (1972). “The Relationship Between Sex Roles, Marital Status, and Mental Illness.” Social Forces, 51, 34–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. — (1973). “Sex, Marital Status, and Mortality.” American Journal of Sociology, 79, 45–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Grove, R. D., & Hetzel, A. M. (1968). Vital Statistics Rates in the United States 1940–1960. Washington, DC: National Center for Health Statistics.Google Scholar
  8. Heising, K. J., & Szklo, M. (1981). “Mortality After Bereavement.” American Journal of Epidemiology, 114, 41–52.Google Scholar
  9. Hu, Y.-H. (1987). “Patterns of Mortality Differentials by Marital Status in Low-Mortality Countries.” Journal of Population Studies, 10, 97–128.Google Scholar
  10. Kaprio, J., Koskenvuo, M., & Rita, H. (1987). “Mortality After Bereavement: A Prospective Study of 95,647 Widowed Persons.” American Journal of Public Health, 77, 283–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kiernan, K. E. (1988). “Who Remains Celibate?” Journal of Biosocial Science, 20, 253–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kisker, E. E., & Goldman, N. (1987). “Perils of Single Life and Benefits of Marriage.” Social Biology, 34, 135–152.Google Scholar
  13. Klebba, A. J. (1970). Mortality From Selected Causes by Marital Status: United States (Part B), National Center for Health Statistics, Ser. 20, No. 8b. Rockville, MD: U.S. Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare.Google Scholar
  14. Kobrin, F. E., & Hendershot, G. E. (1977). “Do Family Ties Reduce Mortality? Evidence From the United States, 1966–1968.” Journal of Marriage and the Family, 39, 737–745.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Koskenvuo, M., Kaprio, J., Kesaniemi, A., & Sarna, S. (1980). “Differences in Mortality From Ischemic Heart Disease by Marital Status and Social Class.” Journal of Chronic Diseases, 33, 95–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Koskenvuo, M., Kaprio, J., Lonnqvist, J., & Sarna, S. (1986). “Social Factors and the Gender Difference in Mortality.” Social Science and Medicine, 23, 605–609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Levy, E. (1974). Données de démographie generale population totale mortalité, 1931–1971. Paris: Institut Nationale de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques.Google Scholar
  18. Livi-Bacci, M. (1985). “Selectivity of Marriage and Mortality: Notes for Future Research.” In Population and Biology, ed. N. Keyfitz. Liege, Belgium: Ordina Editions, pp. 99–108.Google Scholar
  19. MacMahon, B., & Pugh, T. F. (1965). “Suicide in the Widowed.” American Journal of Epidemiology, 81, 23–31.Google Scholar
  20. Ministry of the Interior, Republic of China. (1976). 1975 Taiwan-Fukien Demographic Fact Book, Republic of China. Taipei, Taiwan, China: Ministry of the Interior, Republic of China.Google Scholar
  21. — (1986). 1985 Taiwan-Fukien Demographic Fact Book, Republic of China. Taipei, Taiwan, China: Ministry of the Interior, Republic of China.Google Scholar
  22. Office of Population Censuses and Surveys. (1983). Mortality Statistics, England and Wales 1980. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  23. Payne, C. D. (ed.). (1987). The GLIM System Release 3.77 Manual. Oxford, UK: Numerical Algorithms Group.Google Scholar
  24. Registrar General. (1945–1971). The Registrar General's Statistical Review of England and Wales for the Year: Part 1, Tables, Medical. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  25. Rodríguez, G., & Cleland, J. (1988). “Modelling Marital Fertility by Age and Duration: An Empirical Appraisal of the Page Model.” Population Studies, 42, 241–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sheps, M. C. (1961). “Marriage and Mortality.” American Journal of Public Health, 51, 547–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Statistics and Information Dept. (1955–1980). Vital Statistics, Japan (Vol. 2). Tokyo: Ministry of Health and Welfare.Google Scholar
  28. Statistics Bureau. (1955–1980). Population Census of Japan (Vol. 1): Total Population. Tokyo: Prime Minister's Office.Google Scholar
  29. Statistika Centralbyran. (1955–1980). Befolknings-Forandringar (Del. 3): Hela riketoch lanen m m. Stockholm: Statistika Centralbyran.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Population Association of America 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuanreng Hu
    • 1
  • Noreen Goldman
    • 1
  1. 1.Office of Population ResearchPrinceton UniversityPrinceton

Personalised recommendations