What’s the top reason for early death? Staying up late? Smoking? Drinking?
Not close. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2011 shows that single people might die younger than those who are married. The lead author of the research, David Roelfs, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Louisville, Ky, comments that while earlier studies have indicated that married people do better than singles in terms of longevity and health, their very study reveals just “how poorly the singles do.”
The research was based on more than 90 previous studies including approximately 500 million people. The results are astonishing: mortality risk for single men is 32% higher than the married, and that this number for women is 23%. Put in real numbers, it means that in the worst case single men could die 8-17 years ahead of their married peers; women do not fare much better: they could die 7-15 years earlier than their married female friends. However, the research does not include those who are married then divorced or widowed; nor does it arrive at the conclusion that marriage consequently brings happiness and longevity.
Still, the reasons behind these results are probably more noteworthy than the astounding numbers: lack of social support, fewer health benefits and less income as a result of being single. The problem is therefore not about a happy marriage, but about the implication of being a social person: getting doubled and developing social and emotional interactions is very likely a healthier attitude toward life.