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The Importance of Spousal Education for the Self-Rated Health of Married Adults in the United States

Publication Abstract

Brown, Dustin, Robert A. Hummer, and Mark D. Hayward. 2014. "The Importance of Spousal Education for the Self-Rated Health of Married Adults in the United States." Population Research and Policy Review, 33(1): 127-151.

Education's benefits for individuals' health are well documented, but it is unclear whether health benefits also accrue from the education of others in important social relationships. We assess the extent to which individuals' own education combines with their spouse's education to influence self-rated health among married persons aged 25 and older in the United States (N = 337,846) with pooled data from the 1997-2010 National Health Interview Survey. Results from age- and gender-specific models revealed that own education and spouse's education each share an inverse association with fair/poor self-rated health among married men and women. Controlling for spousal education substantially attenuated the association between individuals' own education and fair/poor self-rated health and the reduction in this association was greater for married women than married men. The results also suggest that husbands' education is more important for wives' self-rated health than vice versa. Spousal education particularly was important for married women aged 45-64. Overall, the results imply that individuals' own education and spousal education combine to influence self-rated health within marriage. The results highlight the importance of shared resources in marriage for producing health.

DOI:10.1007/s11113-013-9305-6 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC3912877. (Pub Med Central)

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