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Married and Unmarried Health Gap Narrows

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, August 12, 2008 12:10 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Marriage, Living Well, Overall Health, Heart Attack

The gap betweenthe health of married and single narrows in this study.  



IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockphoto/ couple and the sea/ author: nataq


It used to be that being a married person meant better health than single folks. Now the gap is narrowing between the married and the unmarried.

A new study shows that the self-rated health of never-married both men and women has improved over the past 30 years. In fact, never-married men now have health approaching that of married men, largely due to greater social resources and support that was historically found in a spouse.

Marriage is traditionally thought to provide a social network, psychological comfort, and financial resources that improve health, particularly for men. But because marriage trends have changed so dramatically over the past 30 years, with people putting off marriage and never marrying, Liu wanted to quantify how the changes have affected physical health.  

The September issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior looked at 32 years of data from the National Health Interview Study of 1.1 million participants.

The reported health for African-Americans improved, and the health of married women has improved.

For women, those who never married had roughly comparable health to married women.  The health of married men has remained stable.

Things are not improving for the widowed, divorced and separated.

In 1972, widowed and married persons were as likely to report good health, but in 2003, the number for the health of the widowed declined by seven percent. Researchers from Michigan State University question whether public policies that encourage marriage are misguided.

"In fact, getting married increases one's risk for eventual marital dissolution, and marital dissolution seems to be worse for self-rated health now that at any point in the past three decades,” reported Liu.

Overall, the study still confirms that being married tends to make people healthier. Participants were between the ages of 25 and 80. #

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