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Marriage & Divorce as They Impact Mortality

April 13, 2010
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While divorce may be the best thing for many couples, staying married for a long time is very good for your health.

An intriguing study calculated the mortality rates of people based upon marital status, timing and length of time married or divorced. The results for men and women are different in some interesting ways. The study “Marital Trajectories and Mortality among US Adults” was authored by Matthew E. Dupre, Audrey N. Beck and Sarah O. Meadows, and reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Women

Women who are currently divorced have about twice the hazard ratio for all-cause mortality than married women. Widows have 1.6 times the hazard risk. Women who marry between the ages of 19 and 25 have the lowest all-cause mortality risk. Getting married before the age of 19 increases their mortality risk by 38%. Women who are married 40 years reduce their mortality risk to almost one-third that of women married for 20 years or less. During the first four years or divorce, divorced women have 60% greater mortality risk than those not divorced, but that increased risk disappears after they have been divorced for 10 years.

Men

Men who are currently divorced have almost 2.4 times the all-cause mortality hazard ratio than married men ā€“ significantly greater than divorced women. Widowers have 1.6 times the hazard risk, about the same as women. Men who marry at 26 years and older have the lowest mortality risk. Getting married before the age of 19 increases their mortality risk by 56%. Men who are married 40 years reduce their mortality risk down to about 40% of men married for 20 years or less. During the first four year of divorce, divorced men have only 25% greater mortality risk than those not divorced, but, unlike women, they continue to have a 20% greater mortality risk even after they have been divorced for 10 years.

The advice to women is to get married between 19 and 25 years old and stay married for more than 40 years. If you do get divorced, it will be more dangerous for the first 4 years, but the mortality risk will eventually even out after ten years.

The advice for men is to wait until you are 26 to get married and stay married. But if you get divorced know that your mortality risk will always be at least 20% higher than if you had stayed married.

Read the Study

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