Gender Differences in the Mechanisms Linking Spousal Education and Mortality

Dustin C. Brown, University of Texas at Austin

Education is considered an individual-level health resource. However, recent studies linking spousal education and mortality suggest that education is a pooled, or household, resource within marriage. Several studies also indicate that a wife’s education is a more important determinant of her husband’s mortality than his own education. This implies that gender differences exist in the resources obtained via a spouse’s education. Extant research on spousal education mortality is sparse and the mechanisms responsible for this association are poorly understood. Thus, I will use data from the Health and Retirement Study to address three questions. First, to what extent do husbands’ and wives’ resources combine to influence each other's mortality? Second, does this association differ by gender? Third, how do specific resources associated with a husband's and wife's education contribute each spouse's mortality risk? The analysis will inform theoretical models of how education-related resources "spillover" to influence the other people’s health.

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Presented in Poster Session 5