Widowhood and Mortality: Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and the Role of Economic Resources

TitleWidowhood and Mortality: Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and the Role of Economic Resources
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsLiu, H, Umberson, D, Xu, M
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Type of ArticleJournal
ISSN Number1047-2797
Keywordsgender, Mortality, race-ethnicity, Widowhood

Purpose We examine widowhood effects on mortality across gender and race-ethnicity, with attention to variation in the mediating role of economic resources. Methods Data were drawn from the Health and Retirement Study (1992-2016). The analytic sample included 34,777 respondents aged 51 and older who contributed 208,470 person-period records. Discrete-time hazard models were estimated to predict the odds of death among white men, black men, Hispanic men, white women, black women, and Hispanic women separately. Karlson–Holm–Breen analysis was conducted to examine the mediating role of economic resources across groups. Results Across all gender and racial-ethnic subgroups, widowhood effects on mortality were largest for Hispanic men. Black women and Hispanic women also suffered stronger effects of widowhood on mortality than white women. For both men and women, economic resources were an important pathway through which widowhood increased mortality risk for whites and blacks but not for Hispanics. Conclusions Findings highlight that gender and race-ethnicity intersect with widowhood status to disadvantage some groups more than others. It is important to explore the complex pathways that contribute to the higher mortality risk of racial-ethnic minorities, especially Hispanic men, following widowhood so that effective interventions can be implemented to reduce those risks.

Citation KeyLIU2020
PubMed ID32336656
PubMed Central IDPMC7304506