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Can J Aging. 2014 Dec;33(4):413-25. doi: 10.1017/S0714980814000282. Epub 2014 Sep 15.

The role of partnership status on late-life physical function.

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Program in Public Health and Department of Preventive Medicine,Stony Brook University.
Center for the Study of Democratic Citizenship,McGill University,and Institute for Governmental Studies,University of California,Berkeley.
Department of Sociology and Carolina Population Center,University of North Carolina,Chapel Hill.


This study examined the socioeconomic pathways linking partnership status to physical functioning, assessed using objective measures of late life physical functioning, including peak flow and grip strength. Using Wave 4 of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), we ran multilevel models to examine the relationship between partnership status and physical function in late life, adjusting for social-network characteristics, socioeconomic factors, and health behaviours. We found a robust relationship between partnership status and physical function. Incorporating social-network characteristics, socioeconomic factors, and health behaviours showed independent robust relationships with physical function. Co-variates attenuated the impact of cohabitation, separation, and widowhood on physical function; robust effects were found for singlehood and divorce. Sex-segregated analyses suggest that associations between cohabitation, singlehood, divorce, and widowhood were larger for men than for women. Results suggest that social ties are important to improved physical function.

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