The increase in marital status differences in mortality up to the oldest age in seven European countries, 1990-99

Popul Stud (Camb). 2007 Nov;61(3):287-98. doi: 10.1080/00324720701524466.


We investigate mortality differentials by marital status among older age groups using a database of mortality rates by marital status at ages 40 and over for seven European countries with 1 billion person-years of exposure. The mortality advantage of married people, both men and women, continues to increase up to at least the age group 85-89, the oldest group we are able to consider. We find the largest absolute differences in mortality levels between marital status groups are at high ages, and that absolute differentials are: (i) greater for men than for women; (ii) similar in magnitude across countries; (iii) increase steadily with age; and (iv) are greatest at older age. We also find that the advantage enjoyed by married people increased over the 1990s in almost all cases. We note that results for groups such as older divorced women need to be interpreted with caution.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Europe
  • Female
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Longevity*
  • Male
  • Marital Status / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mortality / history
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Population Dynamics
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Time and Motion Studies
  • Vital Statistics