Munich Personal RePEc Archive

On the relationship between BMI and marital dissolution

Bellido, Héctor and Marcén, Miriam (2016): On the relationship between BMI and marital dissolution.


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The evolution of marital dissolutions has prompted researchers and policymakers to study their causes and consequences. While the effects of changes in the relationship status on the Body Mass Index (BMI) have been thoroughly documented (Selection, Protection, Social Obligation, and Marriage Market hypotheses), much less work has been done to analyze the impact of changes in the BMI on the probability of marital dissolution. We take advantage of the richness of the data on (pre) marital and biological history from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 79 (NLSY79) to estimate the effect of BMI on marital stability, following an Instrumental Variable approach. We find a small, but statistically-significant, negative effect of this indicator of health on the likelihood of marital dissolution. Supplemental analysis reveals that this effect depends on the category to which people belong according to their BMI (underweight, normal weight, and overweight-obese), and on their race.

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