Lifespans Inequalities by Marital Status: The Case of Australia from 1921 to 1981

Marie-Pier Bergeron-Boucher , Interdisciplinary Center on Population Dynamics (CPop), University of Southern Denmark
Heather Booth, Australian National University

It is now well established that married people tend to live longer than their unmarried counterparts due to a mixture of protective and selective effects. Previous studies show that the mortality differences by marital status have increased over time. Differences in mortality by marital status are often studied by comparing life expectancies, but this measure conceals heterogeneity among individuals. Here we examine differences in lifespan variation and the modal age at death by marital status. These two measures refer to different aspects of mortality, namely the timing and variation of lifespans. Using data from the Australian Demographic Databank (ADDB) between 1921 and 1981, it can be shown that never- and ever-married women had a similar timing of death (mode) but had increasing differences in lifespan variation over time. Never-married men experienced both shorter and more unequal lifespans compared with ever-married men. Greater lifespan inequalities over time are thus not only observed by marital status, but also within the never-married population.

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 Presented in Session 16. Family Dynamics and Survival Patterns