Who cares when singles die? Marital histories, social ties and mortality

Andreas Timm, Bremen University
Hilke Brockmann, Bremen University

It is a well established fact that married people live longer. Today, however, people experience longer periods in their lives as singles. It is also a robust finding that intergenerational ties protect older people’s health and lower their mortality. In modern societies, however, family networks are in flux. Our paper analyses how changing marital and parental histories affect health and mortality. The analysis is based on a representative German panel data set (GSOEP,1984 to 2002). We estimate proportional multi-level hazard models that yield four preliminary findings: Firstly, single men are the most vulnerable group. Their children do not care for them. Secondly, the group of singles becomes less health selected over time. Thirdly, education buffers singles from health threats. Fourthly, social networks other than family networks do not improve the health of singles.

Presented in Session 11: Family life, health and mortality