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Middle-aged, married people and their foibles have been the subject of endless comedy routines. But now, those same folks may have the last laugh. Research at Duke University shows that married, middle-aged folks have a better chance of surviving to a ripe old age than their unattached peers.
When scientists analyzed survival data for more than 4,800 people taking part in a study called the University of North Carolina Alumni Heart Study, they found that having a partner during middle age is protective against premature death. Those who never married were more than twice as likely to die early than those who had been in a stable marriage throughout their adult life. Being single, or losing a partner without replacement, increased the risk of early death during middle age and reduced the likelihood that one would survive to be elderly.
The researchers conclude: “Our results suggest that attention to non-marital patterns of partnership is likely to become more important for these Baby Boomers. These patterns appear to provide different levels of emotional and functional social support, which has been shown to be related to mortality. Social ties during midlife are important to help us understand premature mortality.”