Source: The Mercury, 13 February, 1992, p.4


Marriage is good for health, says seven-year study

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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