Non-random mating and convergence over time for alcohol consumption, smoking, and exercise: the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study

Behav Genet. 2012 May;42(3):354-65. doi: 10.1007/s10519-011-9509-7. Epub 2011 Oct 18.


Spouses tend to have similar lifestyles. We explored the degree to which spouse similarity in alcohol use, smoking, and physical exercise is caused by non-random mating or convergence. We used data collected for the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study from 1984 to 1986 and prospective registry information about when and with whom people entered marriage/cohabitation between 1970 and 2000. Our sample included 19,599 married/cohabitating couples and 1,551 future couples that were to marry/cohabitate in the 14-16 years following data collection. All couples were grouped according to the duration between data collection and entering into marriage/cohabitation. Age-adjusted polychoric spouse correlations were used as the dependent variables in non-linear segmented regression analysis; the independent variable was time. The results indicate that spouse concordance in lifestyle is due to both non-random mating and convergence. Non-random mating appeared to be strongest for smoking. Convergence in alcohol use and smoking was evident during the period prior to marriage/cohabitation, whereas convergence in exercise was evident throughout life. Reduced spouse similarity in smoking with relationship duration may reflect secular trends.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / genetics*
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marriage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / genetics*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Spouses
  • Young Adult