Why Marriage Matters 7

(Taken from “Twenty One Reasons why Marriage Matters,” by the National Marriage Coalition, found at www.marriage.org.au)

Physical Health and Longevity

13. Married people, especially married men, have longer life expectancies than do otherwise similar singles.

Married people live longer than do otherwise similar people who are single or divorced. Husbands as well as wives live longer on average, even after controlling for race, income and family background.In most developed countries, middle-aged single, divorced, or widowed men are about twice as likely to die as married men, and non married women face risks about one and a half times as great as those faced by married women.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the median age of death for non-married men in 1992 was 52.2 years, but the figure leaps to 72.5 years for married men. However, never-married Austral­ian women live slightly longer than married women (74.2 years to 70.1 years).Findings of the Australian National Health Strategy show that “both men and women who are married have much lower standardised death rates than those who are not. Compared with their married counterparts, never married men have a death rate which is 124% higher and divorced/wid­owed men have a death rate which is 102% higher; never-married women have a death rate which is 91% higher and divorced widowed women have a death rate which is 49% higher.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare study of 1994 found that never married and previously married people had mortality rates twice that of married people.An Australian Bureau of Statistics study reported the following: “In 1996 married people overall experienced lower death rates than those who were divorced, widowed or never married. Males aged between 20 and 69 years who had never married experienced death rates two to four times higher than those who were married.”

14. Marriage is associated with better health and lower rates of injury, illness, and disability for both men and women.

Both married men and women enjoy better health on average than do single or divorced individuals.Selection effects regarding divorce or remarriage may account for part of this differential, although research has found no consistent pattern of such selection.Married people ap­pear to manage illness better, monitor each other’s health, have higher incomes and wealth, and adopt healthier lifestyles than do otherwise similar singles.

A recent study of the health effects of marriage drawn from 9,333 respondents to the Health and Retirement Survey of Americans between the ages of 51 and 61 com­pared the incidence of major diseases, as well as function­al disability, in married, cohabiting, divorced, widowed, and never-married individuals. “Without exception,” the authors report, “married persons have the lowest rates of morbidity for each of the diseases, impairments, function­ing problems and disabilities.” Marital status differences in disability remained “dramatic” even after controlling for age, sex and race/ethnicity.

A major study conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 1994 found that married people have less insomnia and are less nervous than previously married or never married people. It also found that mar­ried people have less ulcers than the previously married, although about the same amount as the never married. Married people also smoked less and used less alcohol than never married or previously married people.

A National Health Survey of 19,000 Australians released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in October 1997 found that separated, divorced and widowed people think they are in poorer health than their married and de facto contemporaries.

Finally, an Australian study found that cancer, diabetes and heart disease are all about 40 per cent higher among previously married men and women.

The health disadvantages associated with being raised outside of intact marriages persist long into adulthood.

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