In sickness and in health? Comorbidity in older couples

Publication type

ISER Working Paper Series

Series Number



ISER Working Paper Series


Publication date

December 10, 2013


We investigate the nature and origin of comorbidity, defined as the tendency of members of marital couples to display correlated patterns of ill-health in later life. In the absence of long-term prospective data on couples, we use long-range recall data from the pan-European SHARELife survey and estimate a latent variable model of the health states of marital part- ners in childhood, early adulthood and late adulthood. We find strong persistence in health states and a strong comorbidity correlation, attributable almost equally to homogamy in relation to early health and common factors operating within marriage.

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