Dual-Earner Couples: The Impact of Relative Income on the Prevalence of Heart Disease

Erin B. Reidy, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), CDC

As the prevalence of dual-earner couples continues to rise, it is not clear that marriage will continue to benefit the health of women through primarily economic means. Observations from medical sociology and social epidemiology frequently assert that marriage benefits women's health predominantly through increases in socioeconomic status, and marriage benefits men's health primarily through increases in social support. However, approximately 23% of women in dual-earner couples now earn as much or more than their husbands. Consequently, a considerable subset of women no longer receive a significant increase in socioeconomic status upon marriage. Using the 2001 National Health Interview Survey, I examine the extent to which relative income mediates the effect of gender and marriage on cardiovascular disease, and whether the effects of marriage, gender, and relative income on cardiovascular disease differs by absolute income of each spouse.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Health and Mortality