Black-White Mental and Physical Well-Being Following Divorce

TitleBlack-White Mental and Physical Well-Being Following Divorce
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsAvellar, SA
Date Published2004
UniversityUniversity of Michigan
CityUnited States -- Michigan
KeywordsAdult children, Demographics, Health Conditions and Status, Healthcare, Methodology

Despite the consistent link between divorce and deleterious mental and physical health outcomes, racial variations have been relatively neglected. With divergent socioeconomic statuses, rates of divorce, and other stressors, African-Americans and whites are likely to experience divorce in very different contexts. Racial differences in health outcomes after divorce are often the result of particular constraints and resources, and thus reveal the functioning of social arrangements. I address this issue in three separate but related chapters. In Chapter II, I use five waves of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to examine racial differences in divorce outcomes among older people. Today's midlife and elderly cohorts are probably the first to contain a substantial number of divorcees. I model self-rated health, limitations in activities of daily living, other physical limitations, and mortality for 1) the overall sample and 2) a transitioners sample, comprised of respondents who divorce or separate between waves. The results indicate that in the overall sample, divorce affects blacks and whites similarly and negatively, though this is largely accounted for by an individual's wealth. In the transitioners sample, divorce is associated with an improvement in health status, though only for white respondents. In Chapter III, I establish whether the health gap between the divorced and married exists for both blacks and whites. I model self-rated health and depressive symptoms with both waves of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH), for a nationally representative sample of all ages. In addition to longitudinal data, I improve on past research by employing multiple estimations of the health gap: ordinary least squares, fixed-effects, and matching models. The results suggest that both blacks and whites experience an increase in depressive symptoms after divorce, but the results for self-rated health are inconsistent and weak. The last analytic chapter, Chapter IV, is an examination of whether other factors can account for the heightened depressive symptoms associated with divorce. Again using the NSFH, I include sociodemographic, psychological, social, and relationship variables in OLS models. For both blacks and whites, the heightened distress can be accounted for by employment, worries about income, and having moved.

Endnote Keywords

Depressive Symptoms

Endnote ID


Short TitleBlack-White Mental and Physical Well-Being Following Divorce
Citation Key6202