Living Longer but Unhealthier? Spouse Caregivers’ Health and Mortality in the United States

Nader Mehri , Miami University
J. Scott Brown, Miami University
Jennifer Kinney, Miami University

While adverse caregiver outcomes including physical and mental health have been found to be worse among spouse caregivers, their mortality risk was found to be lower than married non-caregivers. Using two waves of the Health and Retirement Study (2012-2014), this study aimed to resolve the paradox of spouse caregivers’ poorer health and lower mortality in the US. The Bayesian multistate life table technique was utilized to estimate Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE), Unhealthy Life Expectancy (ULE), Total Life Expectancy (TLE), and the proportion of remaining life to be spent healthy (PLE) among spouse caregivers and non-caregiver peers. Descriptive results suggested that spouse caregivers were, on average, older than married non-caregivers. We used the propensity score matching technique to control the age imbalance. We found a gap in HLE, ULE, TLE, and PLE between spouse caregivers and married non-caregivers. The gaps were evident after controlling for sex, race, and education.

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 Presented in Session 9. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions; Gender, Race, & Ethnicity