Marital Dissolutions and Self-Rated Health: Life Course and Birth Cohort Patterns

Hui Liu, Michigan State University

I work from a life course perspective to explore the potentially changing relationship between marital dissolution and health over the life course and across birth cohorts. Growth curve analysis of a fifteen-year national longitudinal survey suggests that transitions from marriage to divorce and widowhood have adverse effects on self-rated health, although those who are continuously divorced and widowed exhibit health trajectories that are similar to those who remain continuously married. More importantly, I find that the health penalty of transitions to divorce and widowhood is more pronounced later in the life course for earlier birth cohorts; while this penalty is more pronounced earlier in the life course for more recent birth cohorts. These results may reflect birth cohort differences in the process of aging and/or in the experience of marital dissolution.

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Presented in Session 175: Union Status Changes and Health