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Cause-specific mortality by partnership status: simultaneous analysis using longitudinal data from England and Wales
  1. Sebastian Franke1,2,
  2. Hill Kulu3
  1. 1 Department of Geography and Planning, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  2. 2 Health Services Management, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany
  3. 3 School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hill Kulu, School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews, St Andrews KY16 9AL, UK; Hill.Kulu{at}


Background This paper examines cause-specific mortality by partnership status. Although non-marital cohabitation has spread rapidly in industrialised countries, only a few studies have investigated mortality by partnership status and no recent study has investigated cause-specific mortality by partnership status.

Methods We use data from the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study and apply competing risks survival models.

Results The simultaneous analysis shows that married individuals have lower mortality than non-married from circulatory, respiratory, digestive, alcohol and accident related causes of deaths, but not from cancer. The analysis by partnership status reveals that once we distinguish premarital and postmarital cohabitants from other non-married groups, the differences between partnered and non-partnered individuals become even more pronounced for all causes of death; this is largely due to similar cause-specific mortality levels between married and cohabiting individuals.

Conclusions With declining marriage rates and the spread of cohabitation and separation, a distinction between partnered and non-partnered individuals is critical to understanding whether and how having a partner shapes the individuals’ health behaviour and mortality. The cause-specific analysis supports both the importance of selection into partnership and the protective effect of living with someone together.

  • mortality
  • marital status
  • longitudinal studies

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  • Contributors SF was the lead author for this paper, coauthored by HK. SF and HK both conceptualised and designed the study. SF planned the study, conducted data set-up and analysed and wrote the paper. HK significantly revised the draft manuscript.

  • Funding SF’s research was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ES/J500094/1) through the North West Doctoral Training Centre Social Statistics pathway (PhD project: ‘Health, Mortality and Partnership Status: Protection or Selection’). He also held an Advanced Quantitative Methods (AQM) enhanced stipend.

  • Disclaimer The authors alone are responsible for the interpretation of the data. This work contains statistical data from ONS, which is Crown Copyright. The use of the ONS statistical data in this work does not imply the endorsement of the ONS in relation to the interpretation or analysis of the statistical data. This work uses research datasets that may not exactly reproduce National Statistics aggregates.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.