Marital status and death rate: reviewing the Farr-Bertillon effect in China: based on population census data of 1990 and 2010


BAI Xiao;WANG Chao


Peking Union Medical College, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences;College of Economics and Management, Beijing University of Technology


In the majority of Western industrialized countries, the death rate of unmarried people (unmarried, widowed or divorced) is 2–3 times higher than that of married people for all age groups, known as the Farr-Bertillon effect. In the social sciences, few effects are effective at all times and in all countries. China and these Western countries have different family values and family structures, so it is not clear whether the Farr-Bertillon effect exists in China. Therefore, this paper studies the effect of marital status on death rates based on China’s census data of 1990 and 2010. The investigation leads to the following results. In the 15–59 age group, the death rate of widowed or divorced people younger than 30 is much higher than the death rate of the unmarried. The relative mortality rations (RMR) in China is higher than Western countries’ comparing the same age brackets. Divorce and bereavement have a greater impact on male, consistent with the results in Western countries. For unmarried people, the impact on male in youth is greater than for female, and the impact on female in middle age is greater than male, consistent with the findings of Japanese studies. After all, in Asia, health is a more important factor to the bride than to the groom. However, in most Western countries, the RMR of unmarried male is always higher than that of females at the same age. In the 60 and above age group, the health status of married people is better than unmarried people. The beneficial effects of marriage on health are greater for elderly female than for elderly male. The above studies show that the Farr-Bertillon effect exists in China. Being unmarried, divorced or widowed in almost all ages has a potentially adverse effect on health, but the specific manifestations in China are different from those in Western industrialized countries.


marital status;impact effect;death rate;health status;gender difference


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Total: 16 articles

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