Does widowhood increase mortality risk?
Boyle, P., Feng, Z.. & Raab, G. (2010) British Society for Population Studies Annual Conference, University of Exeter, UK, 13 - 15 September 2010 [SLS]
Other information: Abstract: We consider whether widowhood increases mortality risk. Although commonly observed, this ‘widowhood effect’ could be due to selection effects as married couples share various characteristics related to the risk of death. We therefore consider the widowhood effect by different causes of spousal death; some are correlated with these shared characteristics, while others are not. Using data from the Scottish Longitudinal Study we compare outcomes for men and women by different causes of death of their spouse, controlling for a range of individual- and household-level characteristics. The widowhood effect is greater than has been found from other recent studies, especially for older women. The risk is highest shortly after widowhood, but remains significant for over ten years. These broad results hold regardless of the cause of death of the spouse, suggesting that this is a causal effect, rather than a result of selection. Health interventions to support widows should be prioritised.