August 10, 2006
Never Marrieds Die Sooner

Single folks are at higher risk of dying.

Those who have never married have a 58% higher risk of an earlier death, compared with a married reference group, found Robert Kaplan, Ph.D., of the University of California at Los Angeles and Richard Kronick, Ph.D., of UC San Diego.

Strikingly, the 58% never-married penalty was also higher than the 27% combined death rates for those who were separated or divorced and the 39% rate for widowed persons. they reported in the August issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

So if you are hesitating to enter some marriage since you think it has a high chance of failure maybe you ought to plunge in knowing that you are reducing your odds of death. On the other hand, I have a long time married friend who thinks being married makes the passage of time harder to bear.

I bet the never marrieds are less attractive than those who get married on average. Yes, there are some beautiful never-marrieds. But, again, I'm talking on average. Well, good looks are partly a measure of health.

"Having never been married may be associated with more severe isolation because it is associated with greater isolation from children and other family."

Alternatively, it might be that people who have underlying illnesses that threaten their health and shorten their life expectancy are deemed less suitable as marriage material.

Also, many of the never married men in the study died from infectious disease, most likely HIV, note the authors.

I bet a difference in average lifetime stress between the married and non-married is the biggest cause of the difference in life expectancy. Stress accelerates the aging process. Marriage could reduce stress in a number of ways. For example, I wonder if having two incomes reduces the stress of feared potential and actual unemployment.

I wonder how much of this result is due to IQ. Higher intelligence correlates with longer life expectancy and this relationship holds up even up into the genius range of IQ. Why is this relevant to marriage? Half Sigma has used the General Social Survey Wordsum test as a rough proxy for intelligence and found that the dumbest men have the lowest rates of marriage. Though the rate of never married climbs at the highest Wordsum score levels among men.

Some of the benefit from being married (at least for some married people) probably comes from having someone to pester you to see a doctor or eat better or just to assure you that you are not alone and unwanted.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2006 August 10 10:54 PM  Aging Studies

carl said at August 11, 2006 8:24 AM:

Don't know exactly what controls these researchers used, but obviously if you die young you are more likely to not be married (earlier you die the more likely to not be married). Confusing correlation with causation perhaps?

Lono said at August 11, 2006 12:58 PM:

I am a little surprised that this benefit is not negated by the increased chance of spouces killing each other off - especially after my wife and I's commute to work this morning...

I suppose working in the same office, a mere few cubicles apart, may be a statistical anomaly however. ;-)

hibbs02 said at August 12, 2006 3:24 PM:

It seems to me that there are two groups that could mostly explain these numbers. Gay men dying of HIV and black men, who tend to have shorter life spans.

Its an easy guess that gay men are probably more in the never married list. As far as black men, I'm taking the cue from the massive out of wedlock birth rates in the black community.

Finally, wouldn't merely dying young for whatever reason add into this equation. Since people tend to get married later and later it seems to me that a fatal car crash, which younger men are much more likely to get into, would get added into the list.

So, I'm not sure how much explanation besides these three factors you actually need.

V.E.G. said at April 26, 2010 2:09 PM:

Some people never got married live longer! It is God's will for Pete's sake! People should know God!

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