Cohabitation and U.S. Adult Mortality: A Gender and Race-Ethnicity Perspective

Hui Liu, Michigan State University
Corinne Reczek, University of Texas at Austin

Despite bourgeoning scholarly and political interest on the rapid growth of cohabitation in the U.S., we know very little how this emergent union type is related to U.S. adult mortality. Based on pooled data from the National Health Interview Survey-Longitudinal Mortality Follow-up files, we compare mortality rates of cohabiters to that of other marital status groups including the married, the unpartnered never-married, divorced/separated, and widowed. Results from Cox proportional hazards models suggest that on average, the overall mortality rate of cohabiters is higher than that of the married (especially for White men and women), lower than that of the divorced/separated or never married (especially for White men and Black men), and similar to that of the widowed. The lower mortality rate of cohabiters relative to the divorced is mainly due to income differences between these two groups; however, family income does not fully explain the higher mortality rate of cohabiters relative to the married.

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Presented in Poster Session 6