Effects of husbands' and wives' education on each other's mortality

Dena H. Jaffe*, Zvi Eisenbach, Yehuda D. Neumark, Orly Manor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Education is an important predictor of one's own cardiovascular disease (CVD) and overall mortality. Little is known, however, regarding the effect of other individuals, specifically a spouse, on these risks. In the present study, we examine the contribution of a spouse's educational attainment and the effect of educational discrepancy between spouses on CVD and overall mortality. Data were taken from the Israel Longitudinal Mortality Study, which linked a 20% sample of the 1983 census to mortality records through 1992. The study cohort comprised 37,618 married couples aged 45-69 years. During the 9.5-year follow-up 6058 men and 2568 women died. Overall and CVD mortality hazard ratios were calculated using Cox proportional hazard regression models. We found that the educational attainment of both spouses were significant predictors of one's own overall mortality. For CVD mortality, however, a wife's educational attainment was a stronger predictor of her husband's risk of dying than his own educational level, while for women a husband's education had little affect. Educational discrepancy between partners did not affect overall mortality and had a varied effect on CVD mortality by sex. Specifically, highly educated women had an almost two-fold increased risk of CVD mortality when married to less educated husbands, while lesser-educated women were not affected by their spouses' educational attainment. Spouses' education adds valuable information when assessing mortality differentials among married persons, and socioeconomic characteristics of one's immediate family are important influences on one's health.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2014-2023
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dena H. Jaffe is the recipient of the Golda Meir Trust post-doctoral fellowship. Data was created by Grant 93-00015/2 from the US–Israel Binational Science Foundation.


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Education
  • Israel
  • Mortality
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Spouse


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of husbands' and wives' education on each other's mortality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this