Health and living arrangements of older Americans: Does marriage matter?

Jersey Liang*, Joseph Winchester Brown, Neal M. Krause, Mary Beth Ofstedal, Joan Bennett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

44 Scopus citations


Objective: This research examines how physical and mental health influence living arrangements among older Americans and whether these effects differ for married and unmarried persons. Methods: Data came from the Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old study. These two intervals were pooled, and hierarchical multinomial logistic regressions were used to analyze pooled time lags. Results: Functional status and cognitive functioning are significantly associated with living arrangements among those not married. Health conditions exert no significant effects among those married. Given the same functional status, unmarried elders are significantly more likely than their married counterparts to reside with their children or with others. Discussion: These results underscore the critical role of the spouse in influencing living arrangements, providing new evidence supporting the assertion that a spouse is the greatest guarantee of support in old age and the importance of the marriage institution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-335
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 06 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Elderly
  • Living arrangements
  • Mental health
  • Physical health


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