Marital and Racial Disparities in Economic Resources and Survival Among Older Women

Joseph Wolfe , University of Alabama at Birmingham
Mieke B. Thomeer, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Married White women generally live longer than their divorced counterparts, but studies show little to no difference in married and divorced Black women’s mortality risk. Many potential explanations for these patterns are related to the distribution of economic resources related to marital status and race. Nevertheless, research in this area has yet to consider the components of income and wealth. This study examines recently updated mortality information and economic records for women from the NLS-MW (N=4,687), a cohort that came into adulthood during a period of low divorce rates but profound gender- and race-based stratification. Results provide evidence that the low mortality risk of married White women is linked to their ownership of more valuable homes than Black women and divorced and never-married White women. Our findings suggest that interventions aimed at reducing health disparities must first address the social causes of housing and other wealth-based inequalities.

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 Presented in Session 6. Health & Mortality & Aging