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Partner's Education Linked to Death Risk of Both in Couple

Study finds women's education and men's social class especially linked to mortality risk of both

FRIDAY, Oct. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Among married or cohabiting couples, women's education and men's social class appear to have an important effect on the mortality risk of both partners, according to research published online Oct. 6 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Jenny Torssander and Robert Erikson of Stockholm University in Sweden analyzed 1990 census data on more than 1.5 million Swedes aged 30 to 59 years, including education, income, and social class and status. The researchers assessed data on the subjects' all-cause mortality and death due to cancer and circulatory disease through 2003.

The researchers found that women's education and men's social class appeared especially important for the risk of mortality for both partners, while men's education was less strongly associated with women's survival. Husbands' social class provided larger differences for women's mortality than their own occupation. Both women's education and men's social class and income were especially linked to women's mortality from circulatory disease.

"Women traditionally take more responsibility for the home than men do, and, as a consequence, women's education might be more important for the family lifestyle -- for example, in terms of food habits -- than men's education. If highly educated women more easily understand the plethora of advice about healthy lifestyles, women's education could have a substantial influence on the health and mortality of the partner," the authors write.

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