The Health Capital of Families: An investigation of the inter-spousal correlation in health status

TitleThe Health Capital of Families: An investigation of the inter-spousal correlation in health status
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsWilson, S
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Call Numberpubs_2002_Wilson_SSocSciMed.pdf
KeywordsAdult children, Health Conditions and Status, Risk Taking

This study documents and analyzes the inter-spousal correlation in health status (ISCIHS) among married couples in later life. A simple economic theory is developed that integrates standard theories of marriage markets and health capital formation. This theory implies that several causal factors will lead to a positive correlation in the health status of spouses. These include assortative matching in the marriage market along dimensions related to health (such as education); a tendency to share common life-style behaviors such as diet, smoking and exercise; shared environmental risk factors for disease; and a potential for direct effects of the health of one spouse on the health of the other. Empirical estimates using the 1992 Health and Retirement study in the USA demonstrate that ISCIHS is large in magnitude, highly statistically significant, and robust to alternative measures of health status. ISCIHS exists even after controlling for age, education, income, and other socioeconomic and demographic determinants of health status, including behavioral risk factors. These covariates reduce the overall correlation coefficient by 33 to 57 , depending on the health measure, which suggests both that marriage formation and decision making processes systematically affect health in later life and that heretofore unidentified risk factors for disease and disability exist at the household level.

URL 2F31 2F2002and_alid=93078847and_rdoc=1and_fmt=and_orig=searchand_qd=1and_cdi=5925and_sort=dandview=cand_acct=C000007678and_version=1and_urlVersion=0and_userid=99318
Endnote Keywords

Health production/Economics of the family/Marriage markets/Shared risks

Endnote ID


Citation Key6829