Source: The Mercury, 13 February, 1992, p.4
MARRIED people are much more likely to live longer than those on their own, says a seven-year study. It found one of the key factors to survival in a world where people are living longer and longer appears to be having someone to confide in. When Australia's age pension was introduced in 1909, the life expectancy for men was 55 years and for women 59. By the end of the 1980s it was 73 for men and 80 for women. Research team leader Dr John McCallum said having a partner in good health gave a meaning and purpose to life as well as practical help. However, with the phenomenal increase in life spans, it had become increasingly important to plan for old age. People who never married or were divorced, separated, or widowed consistently had fewer confidantes than married people. "That's the key difference in social support, which is impor- tant for good health," he said. "If you're not going to get married you need to have sub- stantial forms of social support and they have to be good and reliable. The study, by the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health and the Lin- coln Gerontology Centre, fol- lowed up most of the 1050 people aged 60 and over questioned in 1981. It found that by 1988, 28 per cent of the married men had died (as well, 12 per cent had become widowed), compared with 44 per cent of widowers and 43 per cent of those who had never been married. Fifteen per cent of the married women had died (and 23 per cent widowed) compared with 26 per cent of widows and 27 per cent who had never married. Of those who were divorced or separated in the first study, 19 per cent of men and 18 per cent of women had died by 1988. When it came to confidantes, women were far better off than men. "For men particularly, this is something they need to pay more attention to," Dr McCallum said.
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