J Biosoc Sci. 2023 Oct 26:1-16. doi: 10.1017/S0021932023000226. Online ahead of print.
A known health effect of widowhood is an increased mortality risk among surviving spouses, with gender- and age-specific observations. While morbidity conditions with socio-economic factors may exacerbate the effect of widowhood on mortality, no research has attempted to predict mortality among the widowed over the married population with the presence of morbidity in India. Thus, the present study concurrently examines marital status and health in the Indian setting, bringing substantial empirical evidence to explore the link between marital status, morbidity, and mortality. The study used prospective data from India Human Development Survey (IHDS) wave 1 (2004-2005) and wave 2 (2011-2012). In total, 82,607 individuals aged 25 years and above were considered for the analysis. To present the preliminary findings, descriptive statistics and bivariate analysis were used. Using multivariable logistic regression, the interaction effect of marital status and morbidity status was estimated to predict the likelihood of mortality. Across all socio-economic groups, widowed individuals reporting any morbidity had a higher mortality proportion than married people. Young widowers with any morbidity are more susceptible to increased mortality. Asthma among young widowers and cardiovascular diseases among elderly widowers significantly elevate the probability of mortality. However, older widowed women with diabetes had a lower probability of mortality than older married women with diabetes. The widowers’ disadvantage in mortality and morbidity may be attributable to less care-receiving and the greater incidence of unhealthy lifestyle practices during the post-widowhood period, indicating the need for more research.