Marital status effects on health: Are there differences between never married women and divorced and separated women?

Ingrid Waldron, Christopher C. Weiss, Mary Elizabeth Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To test whether the effects of marital status on health differ between never married women and divorced and separated women, this study utilizes prospective panel data for a large national sample of non-institutionalized young women in the U.S. (the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women). The women were aged 24-34 at the beginning of two successive five-year follow-up intervals (1978-1983 and 1983-1988). The health effects of marital status were evaluated in regressions which assessed the relationships between initial marital status and subsequent health trends in each follow-up interval. In the first follow-up interval, never married women tended to have worse health trends than divorced and separated women for physical impairments and for overall health problems. However, there were no differences between never married women and divorced and separated women in health trends for psychosomatic symptoms in either follow-up interval or for any health measure in the second follow-up interval. Our analyses of cross-sectional data showed few significant differences in health between never married women and divorced and separated women. Taken together, the evidence from our study and previous studies suggests that differences between never married women and divorced and separated women may vary by age and/or cohort. Evidence for the 1970s and 1980s suggests that, among older women, divorced and separated women may have experienced more harmful health effects than never married women; however, among younger women, this difference may have been absent or possibly reversed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1387-1397
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume45
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1997
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Divorce
  • Marital status
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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