Spousal Education and Mortality among Older U.S. Adults

Dustin C. Brown, University of Texas at Austin

Research from other nations generally documents a link between spousal education and mortality, but research from the U.S. is more ambiguous. We hypothesize that spousal education is associated with one’s own risk of death because spouses pool material and non-material resources within a marriage in an effort to maximize their own and their partner’s well-being. We use data from the National Health Interview Survey Linked Mortality Files (NHIS-LMF) to examine the link between spousal education and mortality among adults ages 50 and older. The results support the hypothesis that education is a household resource within the context of marriage. Alternatively, educational discrepancies between spouses do not increase the risk of death. There is no evidence of gender differences in the association between spousal education and mortality. Models omitting information on spousal education among the married may overestimate the importance of an individual’s own education on his/her risk of death.

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Presented in Poster Session 6