Relationship Status, Health, and Health Behavior: An Examination of Cohabiters and Commuters
Fuller, T. D.
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A large amount of literature on relationship status, health, and health behavior indicates that marriage conveys health benefits. This literature, however, devotes relatively little attention to two theoretically interesting groups: unmarried cohabiters and married people who do not live with their spouse ("commuters"). The author hypothesizes that the health and health behaviors of these two groups will be intermediate between those of married people and unattached single individuals. Selective support is found for the hypothesis that the health behaviors of commuters are intermediate between those of married people and single people, but no support is found for the hypothesis that the health status of commuters is intermediate between that of married people and single people. Contrary to expectation, cohabiting persons tend to have poorer health status and health behavior than both their married and single counterparts. Also, while much previous research indicates that the health benefits of marriage are greater for men than women, the author finds that lacking a live-in partner (i.e., commuting or being single) appears to be more detrimental for women than men.
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