Exploring the interactions between health, partnership and early life conditions

Jordi Gumà, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Rocio Treviño-Maruri, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Antonio D. Cámara, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

The effect of marital status and partnership history on health (usually self-perceived) has been assessed in previous studies (Lillard L. and Waite L., 1995; Williams K. and Umberson D., 2004). These studies agree that the first partnership has positive effects on health status of both partners and particularly on men. This approach presents some shortcomings since health status in adulthood is partly determined by early life conditions (e.g. Blackwell et al., 2001; Steven A. H., 2007). Therefore the relationship between partnership and health may well be mediated by early-life conditions in a double sense: 1) by a previous effect on the final output variable (health) and 2) by a selection effect that would influence partnership (i.e. individuals in good health may be more likely to find a partner). The aim of this study is to shed some light on these interactions between partnership history, health status in adulthood and health status earlier in life. Spain will serve to these purposes whereby several hypotheses will be tested. The data comes from the third wave of the Survey on Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) that compiled biographical information about individuals. The discrete time approximation of the Survival Analysis has been applied (Discrete-Time Hazard Model). The reference event has been established as the year of experiencing a period of poor health. Control variables include age, sex, educational status as a proxy of early life conditions, and episodes of poor health experienced during childhood. Results show significant effects both of early-life health and partnership history on adult health. However these results are potentially affected by a selection process that could have to do with the adverse life conditions that a good part of the Spanish population experienced during the 20th Century (e.g. war and postwar-related hardships) which deserves further research.

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Presented in Poster Session 2