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Marital Status and Mortality in Canada: 1951-1981

Frank Trovato and Gloria Lauris
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 51, No. 4 (Nov., 1989), pp. 907-922
DOI: 10.2307/353204
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/353204
Page Count: 16
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Marital Status and Mortality in Canada: 1951-1981
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Abstract

The "protection of marriage" theory (Gove, 1973; Kobrin and Hendershot, 1977) posits that persons in the married state share a lower risk of morbidity and mortality than individuals in the unmarried category. The mechanisms for this effect have been explicated in terms of the social integrative function of marriage. A related proposition states that marriage benefits men more than it benefits women. We use Canadian data from 1951 to 1981 to examine the relationship between marital status transitions of men and women and mortality from neoplasms and cardiovascular diseases. In accordance with the theory, we find that married persons have a lower death rate than the unmarried; and concerning gender differentials, the transition from unmarried to married generally favors men more than it favors women: overall, men share a greater reduction in mortality risk from a change in marital status (from unmarried to married). However, we note a few exceptions to this general relationship, and we discuss our findings in relation to the American-based research in this area of inquiry.

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