Marriage, health and wellbeing

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

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Characteristics and outcomes of childhood abuse.

Australian Bureau of Statistics
Personal safety survey, Australia, 2016. Canberra, ACT : Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2019: Spreadsheets
These spreadsheets provide new data from the 2016 Personal Safety Survey, looking into the prevalence of childhood abuse, the characteristics of adults who experienced childhood abuse, and its association with victimisation in later life. Around 21,250 adults from across Australia took part in this survey. Data is provided on different types of abuse, and their association with various later circumstances in adulthood, including relationship history and marital status, education, employment and income, financial stress, socioeconomic status, health, disability, life satisfaction, social support network, and experience of abuse, assault, and intimate partner violence after the age of 15. Multiple incidences of abuse, characteristics of the first incident of abuse, and gender differences are also considered. A key findings is that people who experienced abuse in childhood are at increased risk of experiencing violence as an adult: 71% of people who reported experiencing childhood abuse also experienced violence as an adult, compared with 33% of those who did not experience childhood abuse. This is the first time the Survey has been used to investigate childhood abuse.

Chronic illness and mental strain : the longitudinal role of partners with time since illness onset.

Lam J and Perales F
Longitudinal and Life Course Studies : International Journal v. 9 no. 3 2018: 279-298
This article investigates whether having a partner helps moderate the negative mental health impacts of chronic illness. Drawing on Australian panel data, it looks at the association between mental health, chronic illness, and marital status. The findings indicate that being in a couple, particularly a marriage, is associated with better mental health, for both men and women, and particularly for people with a chronic illness.

Do marriage and cohabitation provide benefits to health in mid-life? The role of childhood selection mechanisms and partnership characteristics across countries.

Perelli-Harris B, Hoherz S, Addo F, Lappegard T, Evans A, Sassler S and Styrc M
Population Research and Policy Review 23 Apr 2018: Advance online publication
Research has found that married people enjoy better health - but what about cohabiting people? And is it due to the individual characteristics that make people choose different types of unions? This article uses longitudinal data from five countries to investigate the association of marital status and health in middle aged people. It compares a range of factors including partnership and marital status, parenthood status, union duration and experience of separation, education and employment, family structure in childhood and the socio-economic status of parents, and national and regional social and economic differences. Data is taken from Australia, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The findings show that living with a partner - married or unmarried - is positively associated with health, but the strength of the association is reduced or eliminated by other social and national factors.

Australian Unity Wellbeing Index (AUWI) summary report 2002-2017: sixteen years of subjective wellbeing

Australian Unity (Firm), Australian Centre on Quality of Life, Deakin University. School of Psychology
Geelong, Vic. : Deakin University, 2018.
This report examines trends and associations in subjective wellbeing in Australia, drawing on 16 years of data from the annual Australian Unity Wellbeing Index survey. This report investigates how subjective wellbeing changes over time relative to age, whether it changes over time for the youngest and oldest age groups, whether this trend also applies to other subjective wellbeing domains, overall trends from 2002-2017, and the relationship with the key socio-demographic factors of gender, age, household income and composition, marital status and work status. The findings support previous research on the association of wellbeing with marital status, the 'u-shape' relationship with age, and the impact of unemployment.

The wellbeing of Australians: financial wellbeing

Australian Unity (Firm), Australian Centre on Quality of Life, Deakin University. School of Psychology
Geelong, Vic. : Deakin University, 2017.
The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index monitors various aspects of the subjective wellbeing of Australians. Each survey involves a telephone interview with a new sample of 2,000 Australians, incorporating the Personal Wellbeing Index, which measures people's satisfaction with their own lives; the National Wellbeing Index, which measures how satisfied people are with life in Australia; and one or more special topics. This report presents summarises the findings of the 2017 survey and describes the methodology and the sample. Respondents were asked about standard of living, health, achieving in life, personal relationships, safety, community connectedness, future security, the economy, the environment, social conditions, governance, business, national security, and likelihood of a terrorist attack. The special topic in this survey concerned financial wellbeing, with respondents asked to compare their past and future situation and that of their parents and children. Most people rated their financial situation as somewhat good and a substantial proportion rated it as very good. While most people expected their financial situation to improve in the next five years, their wellbeing was similar to that of people who expected it to remain the same.

Chronic illness and mental strain: the moderating role of marital status over the disease cycle

Lam J and Perales F
Indooroopilly, Qld : Life Course Centre, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, 2017.
This paper adds to the research on the factors that buffer the stress associated with living with chronic illness, focusing on the potential moderating effect of marital status. Using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, it investigates whether the effects of having a chronic condition on mental health are smaller for married people than for people who are single, cohabiting, divorced, separated, or widowed, and whether this changes over time and for different genders.

The wellbeing of Australians: federal electoral divisions, homeostatically protected mood and relationship support

Australian Unity (Firm), Australian Centre on Quality of Life, Deakin University. School of Psychology
Geelong, Vic. : Deakin University, 2016.
The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index monitors various aspects of the subjective wellbeing of Australians. Each survey involves a telephone interview with a new sample of 2,000 Australians, incorporating the Personal Wellbeing Index, which measures people's satisfaction with their own lives; the National Wellbeing Index, which measures how satisfied people are with life in Australia; and one or more special topics. As usual, the report includes data and analyses of the survey results, including comparisons by state, gender, age, marital status, income and with previous survey results, as well as discussion on how personal well being is constructed, influenced, and measured. This report presents the findings of the 33rd survey, which was conducted in 2015 with a smaller sample of 1000 people. This survey also investigated the wellbeing of people within Marginal Electoral Divisions and Australian Federal Electoral Divisions - the report summarises the findings but the full results are published separately. Additionally, it presents preliminary findings on the basic psychological elements underpinning the homeostatic system and their relationship with wellbeing.

The family life course and health : partnership, fertility histories, and later-life physical health trajectories in Australia.

O'Flaherty M, Baxter J, Haynes M and Turrell G
Demography v. 53 no. 3 Jun 2016: 777-804
Research suggest that people's health in later-life reflects the occurrence and timing of social patterns over an individual's life, including the presence and timing of parenthood, marriage, and marital disruption. This articles builds on the research by investigating the impact family life-course trajectories on physical health, from ages 18 to 50, for men and women in Australia. Data is taken from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. The findings indicate that - for men - family-life journeys characterised by early family formation, no family formation, an early marital disruption, or high fertility are associated with poorer physical health. However, for women, only those who experienced both a disrupted marital history and a high level of fertility were found to be in poorer health.

The family life course and health: partnership and fertility histories and physical health trajectories in later life

O'Flaherty M, Baxter J, Haynes M and Turrell G
Indooroopilly, Qld. : Life Course Centre, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, 2015.
This paper adds to the research on how family life pathways are linked to physical health in later life. A new body of research has emerged which links the occurrence and timing of significant events such as marriage, divorce, and childbirth with health outcomes in later life, but many studies have investigated these partnership and fertility events independently. This paper uses a holistic classification of marital and fertility trajectories from ages 18-50 to predict later life physical health, using data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. The findings indicate that long-term family life course trajectories are strongly linked to later life health for men, but only minimally for women. For men, family trajectories characterised by early family formation, no family formation, an early marital disruption, or high fertility, are associated with poorer physical health. Among women, only those who experienced both a disrupted marital history and a high level of fertility were found to be in poorer health.

The wellbeing of Australians: housing affordability

Australian Unity (Firm), Australian Centre on Quality of Life, Deakin University. School of Psychology
Geelong, Vic. : Deakin University, 2015.
The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index monitors various aspects of the subjective wellbeing of Australians. Each survey involves a telephone interview with a new sample of 2,000 Australians, incorporating the Personal Wellbeing Index, which measures people's satisfaction with their own lives; the National Wellbeing Index, which measures how satisfied people are with life in Australia; and one or more special topics. As usual, the report includes data and analyses of the survey results, including comparisons by state, gender, age, marital status, income and with previous survey results, as well as discussion on how personal well being is constructed, influenced, and measured. This report presents the findings of the 32nd survey, which was conducted in 2015 with a smaller sample of 1000 people. This survey also investigated the impact of living arrangements and housing affordability on wellbeing, comparing people who are renting, people who live in their home and paying off mortgage, people who live in their home mortgage-free, and people who live at parents' home, as well as the ratio of income and rent/mortgage payment, level of total income, socio-economic status, desire to own a home, and geographical remoteness area.

Age at migration, language proficiency, and socioeconomic outcomes : evidence from Australia.

Guven C and Islam A
Demography v. 52 no. 2 Apr 2015: 513-542
Language proficiency is known to affect both the economic and social outcomes of immigrants. This article estimate the impact of English language proficiency on a range of economic and social outcomes for migrants who arrived in Australia as children, using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. It compares employment, wages, job security, occupational prestige, health and risk taking, marrying into a different culture, satisfaction with partners, social and sport participation, and school achievement. Parents' language proficiency, siblings' outcomes, and gender differences are also examined.

The mental health benefits of relationship formalisation among lesbians and gay men in same-sex relationships.

Bariola E, Lyons A and Leonard W
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health v. 39 no. 6 Dec 2015: 530-535
This article investigates whether the formalisation of a same-sex relationship - such as through registered domestic partnerships and commitment ceremony unions - has benefits for couples' mental health. Findings are taken from 'Private Lives 2' - a national survey conducted with 1,420 people in same-sex relationships - regarding cohabitation, feeling able to seek partner emotional support, relationship tenure, financial arrangements, formalisation, intention to seek formalisation, and levels of distress. Mental health was evaluated using the K10 Psychological Distress Scale. The findings suggest that affording same-sex couples the opportunity to formalise their relationship is not only a civil rights issue but also a public health issue.

Is being childless detrimental to a woman's health and well-being across her life course?

Graham M
Women's Health Issues v. 25 no. 2 Mar/Apr 2015: 176-184
This article examines the association between motherhood status and general physical and mental health and well-being, using ten years of data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey. The findings support the notion that whether or not a woman has children does have consequences for health and well-being; however, this differs across the life course and by marital status.

Marriage, cohabitation and mental health.

Amato P
Family Matters no. 96 2015: 5-13
Research consistently shows that married people have better mental health than single people do. However, the research is unclear on whether marriage causes improvements in mental health or whether people with better mental health are more likely to marry, and whether the benefits of marriage extend equally to wives and husbands and also to non-marital relationships such as cohabitation. This article looks at findings from a new U.S. study that seeks to explore these questions: the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health).

Does marriage make you healthier?

Guner N, Kulikova Y and Llull J
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2014.
"We use the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) and the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) to study the relationship between marriage and health for working-age (20 to 64) individuals [in the United States]. In both data sets married agents are healthier than unmarried ones, and the health gap between married and unmarried agents widens by age. After controlling for observables, a gap of about 12 percentage points in self-reported health persists for ages 55-59. We estimate the marriage health gap non-parametrically as a function of age. If we allow for unobserved heterogeneity in innate permanent health, potentially correlated with timing and likelihood of marriage, we find that the effect of marriage on health disappears at younger (20-39) ages, while about 6 percentage points difference between married and unmarried individuals, about half of the total gap, remains at older (55-59) ages. These results indicate that association between marriage and health is mainly driven by selection into marriage at younger ages, while there might be a protective effect of marriage at older ages. We analyze how selection and protective effects of marriage show up in the data."--Author abstract.

Marriage, cohabitation, and health.

Amato P
30 July-1 August 2014
Married individuals are healthier and happier than single individuals, on average. It is unclear, however, whether marriage improves people's mental and physical health or whether individuals with better health select themselves into marriage. It is also unclear whether non-marital cohabitation confers advantages that are comparable to marriage, and whether the benefits of union formation are similar for men and women. I use a large, nationally representative sample of young adults from the United States (Add Health) to investigate how various aspects of health change after the transition to cohabitation or marriage, and I rely on fixed effects statistical models to control for a variety of potentially confounding personal characteristics. Both marriage and cohabitation are followed by improvements in mental and physical health among men and women. The positive effects of union formation tend to persist among men, whereas they tend to erode over time among women. Policies and programs that help individuals to form and maintain stable residential unions appear to have multiple benefits for people's health.

Under siege: the devastating impact on children of three years of conflict in Syria.

UNICEF
Amman, Jordan : UNICEF, 2014.
This paper looks at the impact that three years of violence and rights violations have had on children and their families inside Syria and on those living as refugees outside its borders.

Age at migration, language proficiency and socio-economic outcomes : evidence from Australia.

Guven C and Islam A
HILDA Survey Research Conference 2013 : papers. Melbourne, Vic. : Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, 2013: 35p
This paper investigates the impact of language proficiency on the economic and social outcomes of migrants in Australia. It exploits the phenomenon that younger children learn languages more easily than older children to construct an instrumental variable for language proficiency. Using data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, it compares the age at arrival of child migrants from Anglophone and non-Anglophone countries with such outcomes as risk taking, alcohol use, mental health, life satisfaction, importance of religion, health, delayed marriage, divorce, high school achievement, wages, and promotion. The effects of parents' English-language profiency is also considered.

Relationship quality and levels of depression and anxiety in a large population-based survey.

Leach L, Butterworth P, Olesen S and Mackinnon A
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology v. 48 no. 3 Mar 2013: 417-425
This article investigates whether the association between relationship status and mental health is moderated by relationship quality. Using data from the longitudinal PATH Survey of adults in the Canberra region, Australian Capital Territory, it compares measures of relationship quality, depression, and anxiety for single, cohabiting, and married men and women.

Marrying too young: end child marriage

United Nations Population Fund
New York : United Nations Population Fund, 2012.
"This report is a clarion call to decision makers, parents, communities and to the world to end child marriage. It documents the current scope, prevalence and inequities associated with child marriage and highlights that by 2020, some 142 million girls will be married by their 18th birthday if current trends continue. This translates into 37,000 girls married each day. Child marriage jeopardizes girls' rights and stands in the way of girls living educated, healthy and productive lives. It also excludes girls from fundamental decisions, such as the timing of marriage and choice of spouse. Girls living in rural areas of the developing world are twice as likely to be married before age 18 as their urban counterparts, and girls with no education are over three times more likely to do so than those with secondary or higher education."

The wellbeing of Australians: the impact of marriage

Cummins R, Woerner J, Weinberg M, Collard J, Hartley-Clark L, Perera C and Horfiniak K
Geelong, Vic. : Deakin University, 2012.
The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index monitors various aspects of the subjective wellbeing of Australians. Each survey involves a telephone interview with a new sample of 2,000 Australians, incorporating the Personal Wellbeing Index, which measures people's satisfaction with their own lives; the National Wellbeing Index, which measures how satisfied people are with life in Australia; and one or more special topics. As usual, the report includes data and analyses of the survey results, including comparisons by state, gender, age, marital status, income and with previous survey results, as well as discussion on how personal well being is constructed, influenced, and measured. This 28th report also investigates the impact of marriage on wellbeing. Participants were asked about marital status and duration of current status. The survey found that married people exhibited the highest wellbeing - with the surprising exception of newlyweds, whose levels of wellbeing tend to fall at the lower end of the normal range. This finding is believed to be largely due to the change in financial circumstances that accompanies marriage.

The state of our unions 2012: marriage in America : the President's marriage agenda.

Wilcox W
Charlottesville, VA : National Marriage Project, University of Virginia, c2012.
The State of Our Unions series monitors the current health of marriage and family life in America. This 2012 edition reviews statistics on marriage, divorce, unmarried cohabitation, loss of child centeredness, fragile families with children, and teen attitudes about marriage and family, and features the special articles: 'The President's marriage agenda for the forgotten sixty percent', by Elizabeth Marquardt, David Blankenhorn, Robert I. Lerman, Linda Malone-Colon, and W. Bradford Wilcox, regarding social change in middle America, and 'Marriage and relationship education: a promising strategy for strengthening low-income, vulnerable families', by Theodora Ooms and Alan J. Hawkins.

Parental marital status and children's wellbeing

Qu L and Weston R
Canberra : Dept. of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2012.
This paper compares the wellbeing of children in married- and cohabiting-parent families. It examines the impact of cohabitation as a setting for raising children, by investigating the different family characteristics, parenting practices, inter-parent relationships, family stability and transitions, and socioeconomic characteristics of married and cohabiting parents, as well as single parent families. Data is taken from 'Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children' (LSAC), for families with young children over a four year period.

'In sickness and in health' : marital status and mental health in Australia.

McNeil M, Baxter J and Hewitt B
Threadgold, Steven, ed. Kirby, Emma, ed. Germov, John ed. Local lives/global networks : TASA 2012 conference proceedings : the annual conference of The Australian Sociological Association 28 November - 1 December, The University of Newcastle. Canberra : TASA, 2012. 9780646567792: 21p
This study investigates the relationship between mental health, marital status and social support, using the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Very little Australian research has examined the relationship between marital status and mental health. The results indicate that people who are married experience better mental health than all other marital status groups. In contrast, men and women who are separated are most likely to report a mental health disorder. Having family members to confide in reduces the likelihood of poor mental health for both women and men, while for women, having friends to rely on also contributes to better mental health. Unemployment and low educational attainment are significantly associated with poorer mental health for men, but not for women.

Relationship transitions and subjective wellbeing : a longitudinal analysis.

Baxter J and Hewitt B
Threadgold, Steven, ed. Kirby, Emma, ed. Germov, John ed. Local lives/global networks : TASA 2012 conference proceedings : the annual conference of The Australian Sociological Association 28 November - 1 December, The University of Newcastle. Canberra : TASA, 2012. 9780646567792: 21p
We examine trends in subjective wellbeing across marital status using 9 waves of HILDA data. We advance previous research by examining two measures of wellbeing - happiness and life satisfaction - examining a wide range of possible relationship statuses. Our analyses differentiated those who were single and not in a relationship, those who were in a relationship but not living together and those who were in a relationship with a live-in partner, either cohabiting or married. We compare results for cohabiters who plan to marry to those who do not, and examine differences between those in a first marriage and those in a higher order marriage, as well as respondents who were separated, divorced and widowed. We estimate a series of fixed effect models on each of the outcome variables that control for unmeasured heterogeneity and also hold constant key independent variables likely to influence wellbeing. Results indicate that men and women who were married have higher levels of wellbeing than those who were not married. We find that transitions into relationships, marriage or cohabitation, significantly increased wellbeing while transitions out of relationships because of separation, or widowhood, negatively impacted on wellbeing. We find no gender differences in these patterns and no significant differences between cohabitation and marriage.

One parent or five: a global look at today's new intentional families

Marquardt E
New York : Institute for American Values, 2011.
Today, anyone can deliberately become a parent - straight, gay, married, partnered, or single. This report compares child wellbeing in these new intentional families, with one-, two-, three-, and even four- and five-parent families. It examines: one-parent families, including single mother by choice, single father by choice, posthumous conception, and cloning; two-parent families including married mother and father, same-sex marriage and parenting, co-parenting pre-conception arrangements, and the possibilities in same-sex procreation; three-parent families, including polyamory, polygamy, and three-person reproduction; and conceiving children with four or five legal, social, biological, and/or gestational parents. The report focuses on the effects of family structure and biological identity on children, and argues that intentionally conceiving children - intentionally wanting a child - is not a key factor in child wellbeing, and that deliberately denying a child a biological parent is damaging to the child's wellbeing.

Why marriage matters : thirty conclusions from the social sciences

Wilcox W
New York : Institute for American Values, 2011.
"... the third edition of 'Why Marriage' Matters focuses new attention on recent scholarship assessing the impact that contemporary cohabitation is having on marriage family life, and the welfare of children. This edition also picks up on topics that surfaced in the first two editions of the report, summarizing a large body of research on the impact of divorce, stepfamilies, and single parenthood on children, adults and the larger commonweal."--p. 7.

The state of our unions 2011: when baby makes three : how parenthood makes life meaningful and how marriage makes parenthood bearable.

Wilcox W
Charlottesville, VA : National Marriage Project, University of Virginia, c2011.
The State of Our Unions series monitors the current health of marriage and family life in America. This 2011 edition reviews statistics on marriage, divorce, unmarried cohabitation, loss of child centeredness, fragile families with children, and teen attitudes about marriage and family, and features the special article: 'When baby makes three: how parenthood makes life meaningful and how marriage makes parenthood bearable'. Analysing data from 3 surveys - the General Social Survey, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, and the Survey of Marital Generosity - this special article investigates whether the joy of parenthood varies by marital status, whether parenthood is linked to the quality and stability of marriage and the sense that one's life is meaningful, whether parenthood is an obstacle to a good marriage, and the social, cultural, and relational sources of marital success among today's parents.

Relationship transitions and subjective wellbeing : a longitudinal analysis.

Baxter J and Hewitt B
2011 HILDA Survey 10th anniversary research conference : 14th and 15th July 2011 at the University of Melbourne. Melbourne, Vic. : Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, 2011: 30p
We examine trends in subjective wellbeing across marital status using 9 waves of HILDA data. We advance previous research by examining two measures of wellbeing - happiness and life satisfaction - examining a wide range of possible marital statuses and examining variations within couples. Our analyses differentiate those who are single and not in a relationship, those who are in a relationship but not living together and those who are in a relationship with a live-in partner, either cohabiting or married. We compare results for cohabiters who plan to marry from those who do not, and examine differences between those in a first marriage and those in a higher order marriage, as well as respondents who are separated, divorced and widowed. We estimate a series of fixed effect models on each of the outcome variables that control for unmeasured heterogeneity and also hold constant key independent variables likely to influence wellbeing. Results indicate that men and women who are married have higher levels of wellbeing than those who are not married. We find that transitions into relationships, marriage or cohabitation, significantly increase wellbeing while transitions out of relationships because of separation, or widowhood, negatively impact on wellbeing. We find no gender differences in these patterns and no significant differences between cohabitation and marriage.

The effect of own life events on own mental health.

Mervin C and Frijters P
2011 HILDA Survey 10th anniversary research conference : 14th and 15th July 2011 at the University of Melbourne. Melbourne, Vic. : Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, 2011: 28p
In this paper, we use seven years of data (Waves 2 to 8 for the period 2002-2008) from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey to estimate the effect of nine life-events on mental health for individuals aged 15 and over. Our analysis has three focal points: whether individuals adapt to life events, the one-off income required to compensate individuals for experiencing a life event, and the investigation of the effects of measures of social support, with a particular focus on marital status, kids, friends, and social network. To investigate these issues we use fixed effect models. There is no adaptation to having a serious illness and being a victim of violence. As a result, the monetary compensations required for constant utility are higher for these events compared to other events where adaptation is complete. Being married significantly buffers against the adverse effect of having a serious illness (e.g. reduces it by 12 per cent) and being a victim of violence (e.g. reduces it by 10.7 per cent).
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