Marital dissolutions and the health of older individuals in a Rural African Context

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Date: July 2017
From: The Journals of Gerontology, Series B(Vol. 72, Issue 4)
Publisher: Gerontological Society of America
Document Type: Author abstract; Clinical report
Length: 201 words

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Abstract :

Objectives: Research from high-income countries has often found a negative relationship between marital dissolutions and health. This paper assesses that relationship among older sub-Saharan Africans, on a now-aging continent. Such individuals are likely to be at risk of a dissolution, or have already experienced one, due to high rates of marriage. Methods: Data from over 1,200 rural Malawians, age 45+, are employed from the 2008 and 2010 waves of the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health. Cross-sectional and lagged dependent variable regressions examine the relationship between marital dissolutions and 4 measures of self-reported health: retrospective health, relative health (compared with others in one's village), and age-standardized SF-12 mental and physical health scales. Results: Worse relative, mental, and physical health are associated with being currently divorced/widowed compared with being married. However, worse retrospective health is linked to becoming divorced/widowed between 2008 and 2010. Those divorced/widowed prior to 2008, and who remained so through 2010, are in worse relative and physical health. Discussion: The findings question the relative hardship of marital dissolutions for those who have managed to survive into old age, and call for the collection of more detailed longitudinal data on older Africans on this topic. Keywords: Divorce--Malawi--Self-reported health--Widowhood doi:10.1093/geronb/gbw077

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A499598521