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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2018 (2018), Article ID 1208598, 8 pages
Research Article

Self-Rated Health Trajectories among Married Americans: Do Disparities Persist over 20 Years?

1Division of Research and Modeling, Center for Financing, Access and Cost Trends, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852, USA
2University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 709 Oldfather Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0324, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Terceira A. Berdahl

Received 5 June 2017; Revised 27 October 2017; Accepted 22 November 2017; Published 11 January 2018

Academic Editor: F. R. Ferraro

Copyright © 2018 Terceira A. Berdahl and Julia McQuillan. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The purpose of this study is to understand self-rated health (SRH) trajectories by social location (race/ethnicity by gender by social class) among married individuals in the United States. We estimate multilevel models of SRH using six observations from 1980 to 2000 from a nationally representative panel of married individuals initially aged 25–55 (Marital Instability Over the Life Course Study). Results indicate that gender, race/ethnicity, and social class are associated with initial SRH disparities. Women are less healthy than men; people of color are less healthy than whites; lower educated individuals are less healthy than higher educated individuals. Women’s health declined slower than men’s but did not differ by race/ethnicity or education. Results from complex intersectional models show that white men with any college had the highest initial SRH. Only women with any college had significantly slower declines in SRH compared to white men with any college. For married individuals of all ages, most initial SRH disparities persist over twenty years. Intersecting statuses show that education provides uneven health benefits across racial/ethnic and gender subgroups.