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The Relationship Between Marriage and Mortality


Several studies have drawn conclusions about whether or not married people live longer than unmarried people. These studies have looked at the implications of marriage on an individual’s overall health, lifestyle and living arrangements. They examine additional factors, as well, such as the age of the couple at the time of marriage. Overall, the conclusion is that married individuals generally report greater health and a lower mortality risk than their unmarried counterparts.

Does Being Married Help You Live Longer?

According to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics, married people tend to report lower mortality rates than unmarried individuals. However, researchers in this study drew no conclusions as to whether this statistic was attributable to selectivity when entering the marriage (based on the hypothesis that healthier people are more likely to get married) or that the marriage itself has health benefits that decrease the mortality rate.

The study looked at trends from 2010 to 2017 in age-adjusted death rates by marital status at the time of death. It found that the death rate was highest for widowed individuals among individuals that were married, never married, divorced or widowed. The age-adjusted death rate for widowed individuals increased by 6 percent during the research period, while the rate for those who were never married declined by 2 percent and the rate for married men declined by 7 percent.

The lowest death rate of all marital status groups was married women, at a rate of 569.3 per 100,000 U.S. standard population as of 2017. Death rates for married men were the lowest for all men involved in the study, at a rate of 942.9. Widowed men had the highest death rate in the study, at 2,238.7. This death rate has remained essentially the same since 2010. The death rate for divorced men was also relatively high, at 1,772.7.

What Is the Reason for the Relationship Between Marriage and Mortality?

It would appear based on this research that overall health and mortality rates are better for married persons compared to unmarried persons – particularly, for men. Subsequent research has attempted to determine if this trend is due to marriage selection (where healthier individuals are more likely to get married) or lifestyle arrangements during marriage, with no concrete conclusions. Some researchers have speculated as to why married persons may be healthier and live longer, with suggestions such as:

  • Positive spousal behaviors
  • Improved quality and enjoyment of life
  • Greater wealth (a socio-economic advantage)
  • Better health care and insurance
  • Modified health behaviors
  • Social networking

Whether or not marriage provides “protection” against health issues and mortality remains to be seen, as researchers have found evidence to confirm both theories. A consistent finding, however, is evidence of poorer health in divorced and single men compared to married men, as well as a gender disparity between single men vs. single women. It should be noted, however, that health and mortality rates also changed based on the stability and quality of the marriage. These findings have led to questions that are yet to be answered regarding whether marriage has a positive impact – especially on male health.

Divorce Stress and Mortality Rates

Researchers have also analyzed a connection between the divorce process itself and higher mortality rates. They found that the transition from being married to unmarried may have an adverse impact on an individual’s health. This may be due to temporary changes in the person’s lifestyle, such as increased stress and diet or exercise changes that can cause a temporary health decline around the time of the divorce. 

Get Help From a Divorce Attorney in Fort Collins

If you are considering getting divorced in Colorado, make the process as efficient and stress-free as possible with assistance from a divorce lawyer at The Law Office of Stephen Vertucci, LLC. Stephen is a highly experienced divorce attorney who will protect your rights and interests throughout the divorce process. Our law firm will handle your divorce case from start to finish for better overall results and a more positive legal experience.

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