Hua Zan’s paper titled “Spousal Health Shocks and Physical Activity Among Older Adults” won the Richard L.D. Morse Applied Consumer Economics Award at the national conference of American Council on Consumer Interests in 2018. Written in collaboration with Su Hyun Shin at the University of Alabama, the paper uses the 2004–2014 data from Health and Retirement Study to show the effects of spousal health shocks (newly diagnosed medical conditions) on older adults’ physical activity.
In particular, the authors explored whether individuals learn from their spouses’ health shocks and adjust their physical activity. Using two-stage models, she found that individuals, especially those who are less educated, increased their physical activity levels in response to their spousal health shocks directly and indirectly (through the negative effect of spousal health shocks on their own self-reported health).
This finding suggests potential beneficial effects of providing health-promoting information to both spouses, especially those with less education, when one spouse develops health problems, says Zan, an assistant researcher in CTAHR’s Center on the Family.