Performance Improvement 2008. Does Marital Status Influence Health?


This investigation of the relationship between marriage and health consisted of scrutinizing recent research, focusing on studies that used rigorous statistical methods to examine whether marriage is a cause of better health outcomes.

A focus on recent evidence revealed that marriage had positive effects on certain health-related outcomes. Married people were generally healthier than unmarried people, as measured by numerous health outcomes. These studies found, for example, that marriage improved certain mental health outcomes, reduced the use of some high-cost health services (such as nursing home care), and increased the likelihood of having health insurance coverage. An emerging literature suggested that growing up with married parents was associated with better health as an adult. Marriage had mixed effects on health behaviors leading to healthier outcomes in some cases (reduced heavy drinking) and less healthy outcomes in others (weight gain). For other key health outcomes – in particular measures of specific physical health conditions-the effects of marriage remained largely unaddressed by rigorous research.

Report Title: The Effects of Marriage on Health: A Synthesis of Recent Research Evidence,
Agency Sponsor:
ASPE-OHSP, Office of Human Services Policy
Federal Contact:
Jennifer Burnszynski, 202-690-8651
Performer: Mathematica Policy Research
PIC ID: 8542

View full report


"PerformanceImprovement2008.pdf" (pdf, 1.29Mb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®