Could Being Single Be Dangerous?

Could being SINGLE be DANGEROUS to your HEALTH??

I read an interesting study last week.   The results are critical to your life.  I’ll sum it up for you in a few sentences.  If you want the

I’ll sum it up for you in a few sentences.  If you want the nitty-gritty details, read on below.  I’ve pulled out some of the data to share.


The gist of it:

Singles have a significantly elevated relative risk of all-cause mortality.

The risk appears to decrease for every decade of age

Living together (co-habitating) does not offer the same protective benefits as marriage


Some scholars have shown that individuals with health problems, less happiness, and less emotional stability are both less likely to get married and more likely to die at an earlier age.


Here are some more specifics

Single people who have never married constitute a growing demographic group.


The authors used analysis to examine 641 risk estimates on more than 500 million persons. The comparison was done to a group of  married individuals.


The mean hazard ratio for mortality was 1.24 (think of it as risk for a particular hazard (death in this article)  for single persons. It is interesting to note that hazard ratios have been modestly increasing over time for both sexes, but have done so somewhat more rapidly for women. The results also showed that the hazard ratio decreased with age.



Research on the relation between marital status and mortality has a rich history in sociology because of Durkheim’s book on suicide. In that work, Durkheim found that never-married persons (hereafter referred to as singles) had higher suicide rates than did married people


In more recent studies, investigators examined whether the observed differentials in mortality by marital status result from premarital health differences (i.e., marital selection) or from post-marital health changes (i.e., a marital protection effect).


Some scholars have shown that individuals with health problems, less happiness, and less emotional stability are both less likely to get married and more likely to die at an earlier age.


Others have found that married people typically enjoy more social support and better economic conditions and that they are less likely to engage in risky behaviors than are singles.


Whereas marital relationships may also be a source of health-damaging stress, on the whole, being married is thought to be associated with better health.


Other interesting trends


The medical literature shows that the frequency of health problems for singles is increasing.


Although living together (cohabitation) is rapidly becoming more widespread as an alternative to marriage, research shows that it is less


advantageous than marriage in terms of mental and physical health..


Other studies concluded that singles had an 11% greater relative risk of early death did than married persons,


but that relative risks did not vary by gender or geographic location.



Socioeconomic trends might offer a plausible explanation for rising hazard ratios for women.


Despite improvements in gender equality over the past few decades, women continue, on average, to be paid substantially less than their male counterparts.


Within the increasing portion of the population in the West who are single parents, women are more likely than men to have custody of the child and to bear the economic burden of childrearing. With the concurrent decline in public assistance, health benefits, and the family wage  in Western societies, single women are more economically and medically marginalized now than in previous years and are therefore at a higher risk for health problems and early death.


It is also interesting to note that the hazard ratio for singles declined by 10% for every 10-year increase in the mean age of the sample.


It may be that as people age, they acclimate to being single, finding ways to compensate for the lack of instrumental and social support that are associated with being married. It is also possible that risky behaviors such as substance abuse or hazardous driving, associated more often with single people, decrease with age.


Singles have a significantly elevated relative risk of dying.

The risk increases over time, especially for women, and are particularly high in younger groups.

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6 Responses to Could Being Single Be Dangerous?

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  5. Fred Champman December 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    I am not really agreeing with the single risk, but I guess there is some data to back it up.

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