Racial difference in spousal death studied

March 2, 2006

A Harvard University study suggests white Americans are far more likely than their black counterparts to die soon after the death of a spouse.

The longitudinal study of 410,272 elderly U.S. couples indicates the "widowhood effect" -- the increased probability of death among new widows and widowers -- is large and enduring among white couples, but undetectable among black couples. That, say researchers, suggests blacks may somehow manage to extend marriage's well-documented health benefits into widowhood.

The study by Harvard sociologists Felix Elwert and Nicholas Christakis is published in the current issue of American Sociological Review.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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