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Social Control of Health Habits: A Longitudinal Analysis of Same- and Different-sex Marital Dyads

Annual Rosenberg Lecture with Dr. Debra Umberson
When Oct 27, 2023
from 02:30 PM to 03:45 PM
Where Prince George's Room, Stamp Student Union
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Prior research on different-sex couples suggests that men’s health benefits more from marriage than women’s in part because women do more to influence the health habits of their spouse, a process known as social control. Yet, this research relies primarily on cross-sectional data and rarely includes same-sex couples. Thus, we know little about how this process changes over time for different-sex or same-sex couples. I will present new findings from dyadic longitudinal data collected from same- and different-sex couples to address change in social control and health habits over a 6-year period. Preliminary results suggest that patterns of stability and change in social control vary for men and women in same- and different-sex dyads. These findings will be discussed from a gender-as-relational framework, with attention to the gendered marital dynamics that influence the long-term health and well-being of same- and different sex spouses.

About the Speaker

Debra Umberson is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center on Aging and Population Sciences (CAPS) at the University of Texas at Austin. CAPS is one of the 13 U.S. Centers on the Demography & Economics of Aging supported by the National Institute on Aging. She is a co-founder of the Texas Aging & Longevity Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and holds a courtesy appointment in the Steve Hicks School of Social Work.

Professor Umberson's research focuses on social factors that influence population health with a particular emphasis on aging and life course change, stress and social ties, and gender, sexuality, and racial variation in health disparities. Her recent research, supported by the National Institute on Aging, examines how marital relationships affect health-related behavior and health care, and how those processes vary across gay, lesbian, and heterosexual unions. In her current research, also supported by the National Institute on Aging, she focuses on racial/ethnic differences in exposure to the death of family members across the life course and the implications for long-term health and mortality disparities.

Umberson has served as editor of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Chair of the Mental Health, Marriage and Family, and Medical Sociology Sections of the American Sociological Association (ASA), and as vice president of the Association of Population Centers. She is an elected Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, 2020 recipient of the Leo G. Reeder Award for Distinguished Contributions to Medical Sociology from the ASA's Section on Medical Sociology, 2020 recipient of the ASA Family Section's Distinguished Career Award, 2016 recipient of the Leonard I. Pearlin Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Sociological Study of Mental Health from the ASA Section on Mental Health, and 2015 recipient of the Matilda White Riley Distinguished Scholar Award from the ASA Section on Aging and the Life Course.

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