A wide range of researchers have claimed that their studies show that married people are healthier and live longer than the unmarried. But scientists at Ohio State now think that while marriage may benefit the health of some, others of the hitched class are not as healthy as they would like to believe.
“We believe marriage is still good for the health of some people, but it is not equally protective for everyone,” says researcher Hui Zheng, an assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State. “For those who are already in poor health, marriage doesn’t seem to provide any extra benefits.”
Overall, this study found that being unmarried significantly increases your risk of death during the next three years. But for those in poor health, being married or unmarried doesn’t much affect your chances of dying.
“(Our) results suggest that marriage may be important for the prevention of disease, but not as helpful once people become seriously ill,” Zheng says. “That’s why we see a protective effect of marriage when people are in excellent health, but not when they are in poor health.”
The researchers also found that married people overestimate how healthy they are.
According to Zheng: “The married don’t seem to report their health as being poor until they’ve already developed much more severe health problems. They have a different threshold for what they consider to be bad health compared to unmarried people.”
That means that once a married person rates his health as “poor,” he may be sicker than a similar single person who also lists his health as poor.