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Marriage and physical capability at mid to later life in England and the USA

Wood, N; McMunn, A; Webb, E; Stafford, M; (2019) Marriage and physical capability at mid to later life in England and the USA. PLoS ONE , 14 (1) , Article e0209388. 10.1371/journal.pone.0209388. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Married people have lower rates of mortality and report better physical and mental health at older ages, compared to their unmarried counterparts. However, there is limited evidence on the association between marriage and physical capability, the ability to carry out the tasks of daily living, which is predictive of future mortality and social care use. We investigate the association between marital status and physical capability at mid to later life in England and the United States. METHODS: We examine the association between marriage and physical capability at mid to later life in England and the USA using two performance-based measures of physical capability: grip strength and walking speed. Multiple linear regression was carried out on Wave 4 (2008) of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and Waves 8 and 9 (2006 and 2008) of the US Health and Retirement Study (HRS). RESULTS: In age adjusted models married men and women had better physical capability than their unmarried counterparts. Much of the marriage advantage was explained by the greater wealth of married people. However, remarried men were found to have stronger grip strength and widowed and never married men had a slower walking speed than men in their first marriage, which was not explained by wealth, demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, health behaviours, chronic disease or depressive symptoms. There were no differences in the association between England and the USA. CONCLUSIONS: Marriage may be an important factor in maintaining physical capability in both England and the USA, particularly because of the greater wealth which married people have accrued by the time they reach older ages. The grip strength advantage for remarried men may be due to unobserved selective factors into remarriage.

Type: Article
Title: Marriage and physical capability at mid to later life in England and the USA
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209388
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0209388
Language: English
Additional information: © 2019 Wood et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10067790
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