Determinants of Exceptional Old Age: How Do Early Life and Marriage Operate on Spousal Concordance in Longevity?

Valérie Jarry, Université de Montréal
Alain Gagnon, Université de Montréal
Robert R. Bourbeau, Université de Montréal

Spouses of centenarians have a survival advantage compared to their birth cohort: however, less is understood about the underlying mechanisms by which spousal concordance in exceptional survival exactly operates. This study investigates whether positive homogamy and/or a shared environment are related to the resemblance among spouses and how it can explain why spouses of centenarians are more likely to achieve very old age. Our sample consists of 806 validated French-Canadian centenarians who died between 1985-2005, and their spouses. Using early-life family variables measuring the social level of the family and gathered from the 1901 and 1911 censuses, we first investigate if there is a tendency to partner with individuals of the same social origin. We then review concordance between spouses for longevity according to the duration of marriage by performing survival analysis. Results could put forward the indirect impact of early-life environment on spousal similarities in very old-age mortality.

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Presented in Poster Session 9