The relationship between mortality and time since divorce, widowhood or remarriage in Norway

By: Kjersti N. Berntsen and Øystein Kravdal

Published in:

Social Science and Medicine 75, pages 2267-2274


The chance of dying within any given year probably depends not only on marital status in that year but also on earlier partnership history. There is still not much knowledge about such effects, however. Our intention is to see how mortality is associated with time since divorce, bereavement and remarriage and time between marital disruption and remarriage. We use register data that include the entire Norwegian population aged 40-89 from 1970 to 2008 (70,701,767 person-years of exposure and 1,484,281 deaths). The excess mortality of divorced men compared to their married counterparts increases with time since divorce, while there is no such trend among divorced women. The pattern is opposite for the widowed, among whom there are indications of a more sharply positive association with time since bereavement for women than for men, though the association is rather weak for both sexes. The remarried have higher mortality than the first-time married, with one surprising exception: men who have remarried after a period of less than 10 years as divorced or widowed have the same mortality as the married. There is no clear association between mortality and time since remarriage. We discuss possible reasons for these patterns.

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Published July 3, 2014 10:50 AM