A Fixed-Effects Analysis of How Individual Mortality Is Influenced by the Proportion Who Are Not Married in the Municipality

Oystein Kravdal, University of Oslo

Using register data for the entire Norwegian population aged 50-89 in 1980-1999, we estimate how the proportions divorced or never-married in a municipality have affected all-cause mortality, net of individual marital status. The data include individual histories of changes in marital status and places of residence, and provide a rare opportunity to include municipality fixed-effects that capture the time-invariant unobserved factors at that level. The beneficial health externality of marriage that has been suggested in the literature is not confirmed. Among men, mortality was low in municipalities with a high proportion divorced or never-married, while such effects do not appear clearly among women. These findings may indicate that a high level of social cohesion in the community is not as beneficial as often claimed, at least not for both sexes, that marriage perhaps undermines rather than strengthens social cohesion, or that other mechanisms are involved, for example related to relative health.

  See paper

Presented in Session 129: Does Community Matter for Health?