Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Completed Projects

Project Title:

Marital status, health and mortality: the role of living arrangement

Project Number:

2007_001

Researchers:

Paul Boyle (University of St Andrews)
Peteke Feijten (University of St Andrews)
Gillian Raab (University of St Andrews)
Lin Hattersley (GROS)

Start Date:

Approved on 21-02-2007

Summary:

It is widely known that being married lowers the risk of dying, and in a number of previous studies the protective effects have been shown to be greater for men than women. However, we have begun to investigate whether it is marriage, or living with others, which is protective for health outcomes. Using data from the 2001 Sample of Anonymised Records (SAR), Boyle and Feng (submitted) do indeed show that for men it is not being married, but living with others which reduces the risk of limiting long-term illness (LLTI). Thus, single, separated and divorced men who live with others have no higher risk of LLTI than married men. This study also shows that for women the risk of LLTI is considerably higher for those who live alone, regardless of marital status but, interestingly given previous studies which suggest that men benefit from being married more than women, unmarried women who live with others have slightly worse health outcomes than married women who live with others.

This project will use a similar methodology to that used by Gardner and Oswald (2004) who used the British Household Panel Study (BHPS) to compare marital status and other characteristics in 1991 with subsequent death between 1993 and 2001. We replicated this model already to the England & Wales LS data (output not yet cleared). We examined the effects of marital status and living arrangements on subsequent death after censuses 1971, 1981, and 1991. We will replicate this model for deaths after the Scottish 1991 census. Also, we will analyse (like we did in the LS) the effect of living arrangement on health. This analysis makes better use of the longitudinal nature of the SLS, because investigates the effect of a (possible) change in living arrangement between 1991 and 2001 on health. We study whether there is a change in health for those who were living alone, or not, in 1991 and 2001. This will allow us to investigate whether a change in living arrangement changes a person’s health situation, and whether this change is for the better or for the worse.

The purpose of the study is to contribute to the body of literature on marital status and health, by adding a new element to the explanation of why marriage is associated with better health.

We want to investigate the effect of marital status and living arrangement on mortality risk and health. In terms of model effects, we will test the hypotheses that:

  • Those who live alone are more likely to die than those who live with others.
  • Unmarried adults (separated, divorced or widowed) who live with others are no more likely to die than married adults who live with others.
  • Living with other adults is more protective than living with children.

The purpose of the study is to contribute to the body of literature on marital status and health, by adding a new element to the explanation of why marriage is associated with better health.

Related Outputs (viewable on CALLS Hub):

Explore the variables held in the SLS data dictionary.

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