Thus, the age groups are not only wide but also overlapping
Given my results, this composition favors men. Thus, the age gap between the spouses may in part explain why marriage is more beneficial for men than for women. My results also suggest that the possible selection bias caused by an insufficient length of partnership is of no importance in explaining the effects of the survival differences by the age gap to the spouse.
Previous research has suggested that selection and discrepancy from the social norm cause the mortality difference by the age gap to the spouse. This explanation was proposed in the 1970s, when social norms for mating behavior in general and especially for the age difference between partners were probably much stronger than today. My investigation supports this explanation for men but not for women. If social norms for the age gap to the spouse were the driving force of the observed mortality differentials, female mortality could be assumed to be lowest at ages where women are a few years younger than their spouses. Here, I find that mortality in women is lowest when a woman is the same age as her husband and increases with increasing age discrepancy. Continue reading