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Crisis or Chronic Strain? Gender and Age Differences in Sickness Absence following Early Spousal Loss

PhD candidate Bo Wignes has published an article on effects of spousal loss in Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

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This population-based study (N = 908,468) examines the effects of spousal loss on being absent from work due to illness or injury (sickness absence) among employed individuals in Norway. Fixed-effects models capturing antecedent and short- and long-term effects of spousal loss over a 15-year period were estimated to explore gender and age differences in the impact of widowhood.

The crisis model, the social-role model, and the life course perspective are discussed. Furthermore, the study calls into question whether parenthood explains the gendered age gradient of the widowhood effect. The results show that the theoretical relevance of the crisis and social-role models is best understood in dialogue with a gendered life course approach. The results show that the crisis response is especially high among young widowers, whereas the recovery period is markedly prolonged among young widows. Parenthood at the time of widowhood explains much of the age difference among widowers and widows.