Couples’ Characteristics and the Correlation of Husbands’ and Wives’ Health

Gilbert Brenes-Camacho, Universidad de Costa Rica

Living together creates the conditions for a spouse’s health to be inter-related with the health of the other spouse, especially among middle-aged or older couples. The article explores the association between the determinants of a couple’s health and a set of biomarkers, through a system of simultaneous equations –one for each spouse, as well as secondary equations for controlling endogeneity– using a dataset of middle-aged adults from Costa Rica. There are positive correlations between the errors of the paired equations, although the size of the correlations is relatively small (around 0.10). Individual and economic variables do not seem to have a strong effect on health, but self-reported stress is related with both own and spouse’s health. Female spouse´s self-reported stress is directly associated with male’s levels of cholesterol, HDL, and CRP, while male spouse´s stress is positively associated with several female health variables: cholesterol, HDL, HbA1C, and systolic blood pressure.

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Presented in Poster Session 5