MPIDR Working Paper
Love and death in Germany: the marital biography and its impact on mortality
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2002-015, 31 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (April 2002)
Most studies dealing with the impact of marriage on mortality treat being married as a once-and-for-all status. However, multiple life changes in marital status characterize the modern life course. The purpose of this paper is to analyze how the timing of these changes affect mortality in Germany. Longitudinal data show that the positive effects of getting married accumulate over long periods of time, while the negative effect of divorce and widowhood attenuates after some time. We also find that the effect of any marital status wears out with an individual’s age and differs between cohorts, which is partly due to selectivity. Both temporal mechanism and selection processes demonstrate the plasticity of the marital biography and its variable effect on mortality.