Though considerable research has been devoted to examining the effects of marriage on health and on how couples affect each other's health, there is little information on older ethnic couples, and none, of which we are aware, on cross national comparisons of couples and health. In this research, we address this limitation by examining the influence of one partner's disability on the other partner's change in depressive symptoms among older Mexican American and Mexican couples. Data are from respondents aged 65 and over from two waves (1993-1994, 1995-1996) of the Hispanic Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly (H-EPESE, n = 553 couples) and two waves (2001, 2003) of the Mexican Health and Aging Study (MHAS, n = 832 couples). Using OLS regression, we assess the extent to which husbands’ disability levels influence change in depressive symptoms for wives and vice versa. We address three research questions: (1) Is increased disability of one spouse associated with an increase in depressive symptoms from baseline to follow-up in Mexico and the US?; (2) Does this relationship vary by gender in the two countries?; and (3) Does this relationship vary by nativity in the US? Results suggest that increased levels of disability of wives are associated with an increase in husbands’ depressive symptoms in the H-EPESE and that increased levels of disability of husbands are associated with an increase in wives’ depressive symptoms in the MHAS. Finally, there is preliminary evidence that, in the US, this relationship is modified by nativity, such that only the foreign born wives do not show significantly increased depressive symptoms with increased disability of the spouse. As the population continues to age and become more diversified, caregiving burdens will likely increase and put pressure on family systems to respond. It is important to examine the potential impact of disability of spouses on their partners and to clarify gender and cultural differences in health in the couple context.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)