Does Marriage Matter in the Self-Reported Health in South Korea? A Social Determinants of Health Approach




Smith, Kylie Marie

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Literature has long acknowledged the beneficial effects of marriage on health. However, the majority of the prior research has been conducted in the United States. As of today, there is little research on the effects of marital status on self-reported health in East Asian societies, including South Korea. This study focuses on the effects of marital status, socioeconomic resources (e.g., SES), health risk behaviors (i.e., smoking and drinking), social connectedness, and religious involvement as the social determinants on men's and women's self-reported health by using the Korean General Social Survey (KGSS), a nationally representative sample of adults aged 18 and above. More specifically, this study (1) explores if married individuals indeed exhibit better health outcomes than those who are not married, (2) examines how socioeconomic resources, health risk behaviors, social connectedness, and religious involvement benefit or hinder individuals' self-reported health differently by marital status, and (3) investigates possible gender differences in the linkages between marriage and self-reported health as the institution of marriage is highly gendered in contemporary South Korea. Multivariate statistical modeling indicates that (1) as hypothesized the married respondents did report better health than their unmarried counterparts, but the finding is not as robust as hypothesized; (2) income, and to a lesser degree, educational attainment as the social determinants are significantly and positively associated with better self-reported health, especially for the married; (3) health risk behaviors indicated by frequencies of smoking and drinking as the social determinants are significantly and negatively associated with self-reported health, with smoking exerting a more robust effect on health for the married; (4) contrary to the hypotheses neither social connectedness nor religious involvement are significantly associated with self-reported health; and finally, there is little evidence to support that the claims that men's health benefits in marriage are greater than that of women. Theses study findings contribute significantly to comparative family studies as well as the self-reported health consequences of marriage and family life in non-Western societies.


This item is available only to currently enrolled UTSA students, faculty or staff. To download, navigate to Log In in the top right-hand corner of this screen, then select Log in with my UTSA ID.


Health determinants, Marriage, Socioeconomic, South Korea