How Does the Age Gap between Partners Affect their Survival?

Sven Drefahl, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

A person’s survival chances are affected by the presence or absence of a spouse and by various spousal characteristics such as spouse’s education and smoking habits. A further factor that influences the survival of both partners is the age gap between them. Several authors found that having a younger spouse is beneficial, while having an older spouse is detrimental for ones own survival. The most common explanations refer to selection effects as well as some beneficial psychological and sociological effects of having a younger spouse. The present study extends earlier work by using longitudinal Danish register data which includes the entire history of key demographic events of the whole population from 1980 onwards. Controlling for confounding factors such as education and wealth, preliminary results suggest that having a younger spouse is beneficial for men but not for women.

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Presented in Session 75: Gender, Marriage and Mortality