The Effect of Marital Status on Life Expectancy: Is Cohabitation As Protective As Marriage?

Journal of Demographic Economics, Forthcoming

33 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2022

See all articles by Anne Balter

Anne Balter

Tilburg University; Netspar

Dorethe Bjerre

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Malene Kallestrup Lamb

Aarhus University

Date Written: October 27, 2022

Abstract

It is well-known that marital status is an important predictor for life expectancy. However, non-married individuals are often misclassified as singles which ignores the heterogeneity within the group. This paper shows the importance of distinguishing between types of singles, and in particular whether they are cohabiting, when predicting life expectancies. We use unique and detailed longitudinal register data to track marital status throughout the individual’s lifetime. We find that all types of singles consistently benefit from living with a spouse, i.e. after divorce, becoming widower or being never married. This result holds for both men and women. For certain types of cohabiting singles we reject significant differences in life expectancy compared to married individuals. Finally, we use a case study to show that, like married individuals, all types of singles that cohabit also serve as informal caregivers and have the potential to limit the end-of-life long-term care expenditure levels.

Keywords: Cohabitation, life expectancies, longevity, mortality, marital status, health expenditure

JEL Classification: J11, J12, I14

Suggested Citation

Balter, Anne and Bjerre, Dorethe Skovgaard and Kallestrup Lamb, Malene, The Effect of Marital Status on Life Expectancy: Is Cohabitation As Protective As Marriage? (October 27, 2022). Journal of Demographic Economics, Forthcoming , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4260302

Anne Balter

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC Noord-Brabant 5000 LE
Netherlands

Netspar ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

Dorethe Skovgaard Bjerre

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Malene Kallestrup Lamb (Contact Author)

Aarhus University ( email )

Fuglesangs Allé 4
Building 1322, Bartholins Alle 10
Aarhus C, 8000
Denmark
30257897 (Phone)

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