Socio-economic gradent in widowhood and adult mortality in India
The study documents the mortality risk associated with widowhood in India. Using data from the India Human Development Survey (IHDS), a nationally representative panel study, we observe higher mortality among both widowed women and men relative to those who are married. Accounting for differences in age, socioeconomic status, and residence explains the higher risk of mortality for widowed women and men ages sixty and above, but not for those aged 25 to 59. The risk of mortality associated with widowhood is greatest for widowed men who are poorer as well as younger widowers who live in rural areas. In contrast, it is in urban areas where widowed women aged 25-59 face the greatest widowhood penalty. We also show that receiving a widow pension significantly reduces mortality for widows aged 25-59. These results highlight the association between widowhood and mortality in low- and middle-income contexts, and the relevance of marital status to health in low in these contexts.
Keywords: Widowhood; Mortality; socio-economic difference; IHDS; India