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Becoming Married and Mental Health: A Longitudinal Study of a Cohort of Young Adults

Allan V. Horwitz, Helene Raskin White and Sandra Howell-White
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 58, No. 4 (Nov., 1996), pp. 895-907
DOI: 10.2307/353978
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/353978
Page Count: 13
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Becoming Married and Mental Health: A Longitudinal Study of a Cohort of Young Adults
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Abstract

Despite the assumption that marriage enhances psychological well-being, little evidence exists that the social role of marriage, rather than the characteristics of individuals who get married, accounts for the benefits of marriage. We use a sample of 18-, 21-, and 24-year-old men and women who either remained unmarried or got married and remained married over a 7-year period to examine whether, after controlling for premarital rates of disorder, marriage enhances mental health. In addition, we consider whether or not females derive more mental health benefits from marriage than males. The results indicate that, with controls for premarital rates of mental health, young adults who get and stay married do have higher levels of well-being than those who remain single. In addition, although men—but not women—who become married report less depression, women—but not men—who become married report fewer alcohol problems. Thus, when both male-prevalent and female-prevalent outcome measures are used, both men and women benefit from marriage.

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