Based on longitudinal data from the Health and Retirement Study, this study assesses the importance of marital status in explaining racial disparities in all-cause mortality during an 18-year follow-up among White and African American men aged 51 to 61 years in 1992. Being married was associated with significant advantages in household income, health behaviors, and self-rated health. These advantages associated with marriage at baseline also got translated into better survival chance for married men during the 1992-2010 follow-up. Both marital selection and marital protection were relevant in explaining the mortality advantages associated with marriage. After adjusting for the effect of selected variables on premarital socioeconomic status and health, about 28% of the mortality gap between White and African American men in the Health and Retirement Study can be explained by the relatively low rates of marriage among African American men. Addressing the historically low rates of marriage among African Americans and their contributing factors becomes important for reducing racial disparities in men’s mortality.
- health and retirement study
- racial disparities
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health