Health status after marital dissolution in Italy

Emilia Arcaleni


Using data from the 2003 Italian sample of the Generation and Gender Survey, this paper tests the hypothesis that marital dissolution is an adverse event for health and investigates the role of possible mediators. Results show that people who experienced separation or divorce are more likely to be affected by longstanding illness or permanent disabilities that hamper them in daily activities, compared to people in intact families. Results also show a gender specificity of the majority of the mediators. In particular, disadvantaged household economic conditions amplify the effect of separation more for men than for women. Women, on the other hand, appear to be vulnerable even at low levels of economic difficulty. The presence of children acts in the opposite direction for men and women: having more than one child amplifies the effect of separation on mothers, while it appears to be protective for fathers. The analysis also sheds light on the timing of health problems. Results suggest an earlier onset for women than for men.

Emilia ARCALENI, Researcher, Istituto Nazionale di Statistica, ISTAT, Viale dell'Oceano Pacifico, 171, 00144-Roma, Italy. E-mail:



health, marital dissolution, Italy

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ISSN: 2035-5556

Reg. Tribunale di Roma n. 3321/54