Can your spouse’s education positively impact your overall health? Researchers say yes!
Updated: Jan 26, 2022 18:21 IST
Bloomington (Indiana) [US], January 26 (ANI): One often considers the education of one’s partner-to-be before getting married. Although, it is never linked to one’s personal health, more to the society. But, now, a study by Indiana University researchers has found a positive link between people with more schooling and their partner’s overall health.
The study, published in the ‘Journal of Health and Social Behavior’, found that spousal education is positively related to people’s overall health, with an effect size that rivals the impact of a person’s own education.
“Our results show that who you’re married to, and how much education they have, matter for your health,” said Andrew Halpern-Manners, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at IU. “This provides further evidence that education, in addition to being valuable for individuals, is also a sharable resource.”
The researchers used more than half a century’s worth of data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, a rich longitudinal study of individuals, their spouses, their siblings and their siblings’ spouses that included information about respondents’ health, marriages, educational attainments and the educational attainments of their spouses. Due to the timing of the study, which began in 1957, it only referred to heterosexual couples.
Elaine M. Hernandez, the co-author of the study and an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at IU, said researchers have routinely observed a relationship between spousal education and health, but the nature of this relationship has been harder to establish. Because healthier people tend to have more schooling and to partner with those who also are highly educated, it could be difficult to isolate the unique effect of spousal education.
To address this, the team compared the self-rated health of siblings whose spouses had different levels of schooling. The idea, Halpern-Manners said was to find pairs of people who were as similar as possible across a variety of dimensions and then ask whether differences in their partners’ education could explain differences in their health.
They found that the effect of spousal education on a person’s self-assessed overall health was positive and relatively large, suggesting that people benefitted from having more highly educated partners in the same way (and to roughly the same extent) that they benefit from being highly educated themselves.
This pattern was especially pronounced among women, whose health was more closely tied to spousal education than men’s. This finding, Hernandez said, could reflect the time period (the 1960s-1970s) in which most of the respondents completed their education, married and entered the labour force.
“The fact that we observe significant cross-over effects means that education has health-enhancing benefits for the individual, but it also has tangible benefits for those around them — especially intimate ties,” Halpern-Manners said.
“This underscores the importance of education — as a public good worth investing in — and suggests that its overall public health impact may be larger than we typically imagine,” Halpern-Manners concluded. (ANI)