Ethnic composition of couples and mutual health benefit receipt: register-based evidence from Finland

Jan Saarela, Maria Stanfors, Mikael Rostila

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The literature on health dependencies among partners typically ignores diversity of part-nership characteristics. One salient example is the ethnic composition. We extend prior work on partnerships and health by investigating how married and cohabiting partners mutually influence each other’s receipt of health-related benefits, focusing on how such correlations vary with the couple’s ethnic composition. We study partners’ mutual receipt of sickness allowance and disability pension in ethnically endogamous and exogamous couples in Finland. The population consists of native individuals in similar socioeconomic positions but belonging to two different ethnic groups— Finnish and Swedish speakers—who differ in health and family life. Using data from population registers, we estimate discrete-time hazard models for first-time benefit receipt, as related to partner’s benefit receipt, among midlife couples. We found evidence of mutual receipt of health benefits in both endogamous and exogamous couples, the correlation being strongest for disability pension. Partner correlation in disability pension receipt is slightly stronger in endogamous Swedish than in endogamous Finnish couples, while women in exogamous couples are slightly less sensitive to men’s receipt than vice versa. The results show that mutual health may be heterogeneous across couples that differ in ethnic composition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number73
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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