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Till Death Do Us Part: Marital Status and U.S. Mortality Trends, 1986 – 2000


  • This article was edited by David Johnson.

Department of Sociology, 316 Berkey Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1111 (


Although the association of being married and a lower mortality rate has been well established, most previous research on marital status and mortality did not consider potential change in this relationship over time. In this study, I adopted a survey cohort perspective to examine both overall and cause-specific mortality trends by marital status from 1986 to 2000 in the United States. On the basis of data from the National Health Interview Survey-Longitudinal Mortality Follow-up (N = 517,314), I found that mortality generally decreased or remained stable for the married from the 1986 to 2000 NHIS cohort, except for diabetes deaths. There is evidence showing divergent mortality trends between the married and unmarried, especially the widowed. Race and gender variations are examined.