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The impact of spousal bereavement on self-assessed health status: evidence from the Taiwanese elderly population

Fu-Min Tseng (), Dennis Petrie () and Roberto Leon-Gonzalez ()

No 14-13, GRIPS Discussion Papers from National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies

Abstract: Bereavement is a grieved and inevitable event in our life. For an aging society, the incidence of spousal bereavement and parental bereavement is higher than the other kinds of bereavement events. This study employs the difference-in-differences (DiD) strategy and the Taiwanese panel Survey of Health and Living Status of the Elderly (SHLSE) to evaluate the impact of losing a spouse on well-being measured by self-assessed health status, depression, and life satisfaction. The results show that spousal bereavement causes substantial depression and loss in life satisfaction. The spousal bereavement impact increases depression by 1.46 CES-D points and reduces life satisfaction by 0.71 points. The decay effect of time is not observed in this study. We also examine the demographic differences of the spousal bereavement impact and find that the gap in life satisfaction between the bereaved who received more than 9 years education and the bereaved who received 9 years or less is 1.43 points, which implies that spousal bereavement causes less impact on more educated people in terms of life satisfaction. The increase in depression for the bereaved in a larger household is smaller than that for those in a small household by 2.75 CES-D points but it is weakly significant. The self-reported health outcomes are the intermediate outcomes between spousal bereavement and societal costs such as healthcare utilisation and death. The association between self-reported health status and mortality and health utilization has been well documented by literature. Thus, our results also provide the policy insight that giving proper interventions on the onset of bereavement may cause less societal costs afterwards.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-age, nep-hap and nep-hea
Date: 2014-09
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