191524 Marriage gradient: Historical and conceptual background

Monday, October 27, 2008: 10:30 AM

Paul A. Gilbert, ScM , Health Behavior and Health Education, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
For over 150 years it has been generally acknowledged that “marriage is a healthy state,” where married people live longer, healthier lives than their single, divorced and widowed peers. Yet social scientists have failed to adequately explain this persistent observation—the marriage gradient. The processes involved remain poorly understood, and variability in the effect by gender and age threaten the generalizability of the maxim of the marriage gradient. Furthermore, the increased visibility of lesbians and gay men over the last several decades present an intriguing situation. Their now exist mechanisms in some localities where lesbians and gay men may formalize same-sex relationships in domestic partnerships, civil unions, or legal marriage, yet little research has been done to date that examines whether an analogous marriage gradient exists for same-sex relationships. This presentation will review the historical and conceptual basis for the marriage gradient from multiple social science perspectives, describe several possible mechanisms for the observed effects, including counter-explanations, discuss potential mechanisms relevant to same-sex relationships, and highlight gaps in the literature.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the historical evidence for the marriage gradient. Articulate several potential causal mechanisms underlying the marriage gradient. Identify gaps in the literature regarding same-sex relationship status and health outcomes.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: of several years of study of the topic.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.