Decomposing the Effects of Marital Trajectories on Health: A Discrete-Time Analysis of Transitions, Duration, Sequencing, and Timing across the Life Course

Matthew E. Dupre, Duke University
Sarah O. Meadows, Duke University

Research shows that marital status is associated with numerous physical and psychological health outcomes. With the emergence of life course perspectives, studies have begun to focus on marital histories, or trajectories, as the preferred paradigm in which to study this relationship. However, previous attempts to examine marital trajectories have been limited in their measurement of the components of this construct -- transitions, duration, sequencing, and timing -- with available longitudinal data. Using both retrospective and prospective data from the Health and Retirement Survey, we exploit the use of time-varying measures in event history analyses to simultaneously model the effects of complete marital histories on health and mortality. We believe these outcomes will be affected most by the duration (i.e. exposure) in a given marital state, however, this relationship will largely depend on the number of marital transitions across the life course. Suggestions for future research on marital trajectories are discussed.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Health and Mortality