27 Jun Myth Buster Monday: Is the individual who is single someone to be envied?
There are many who think that living the single life is the perfect life. Some of these individuals struggled to understand why anyone would choose to tie themselves down to one individual and relinquish autonomy and freedom in the process. Popular culture portrays the single, “sex and the city” lifestyle as the ultimate hip and happy way to go through life. But does the research agree?
Take a look at just a few of the studies that show marriage as superior to the single life.
Married people were happier and healthier than widowed, divorced, separated, cohabiting or never-married people, regardless of race, age, sex, education, nationality or income.
Charlotte Schoenborn, “Marital Status and Health: United States, 1999-2002,” Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 351 (2004).
People who were married reported the highest levels of well-being, regardless of whether they were happily married or not. “Even when controlling for relationship happiness, being married was associated with higher self-esteem, greater life satisfaction, greater happiness and less distress.”
Claire Kamp Dush and Paul Amato, “Consequences of Relationship Status and Quality for Subjective Well-Being,” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 22, 5 (2005): 607-627.
Married people were more likely than those who were not married to be very happy. Forty-three percent of people who said they were very happy were married, versus 24 percent of unmarried people saying were very happy.
“Are We Happy Yet?: A Social Trends Report,” Pew Research Center, February 13, 2006.
Mental emotional health
The rate of suicide among the divorced/separated/widowed is almost 75 percent higher than the rate of those who are married. The rate is even higher among the never-married.
Kate Fairweather-Schmide, et al., “Baseline Factors Predictive of Serious Suicidality at Follow-up: Findings Focusing on Age and Gender from a Community-Based Study,” BioMedCentral Psychiatry 10 (June 2010): 41.
Compared to single peers, married college students were approximately 30 percent less likely to seriously contemplate suicide. “The single most protective factor [from seriously attempting suicide] was being married.”
Jeremy Kisch, Victor Leino and Morton Silverman, “Aspects of Suicidal Behavior, Depression and Treatment in College Students: Results from the Spring 2000 National College Health Assessment Survey,” Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 35.1 (2005): 3-13.
Because of “the therapeutic benefit of marriage,” rates for alcoholism, suicide, schizophrenia and other psychiatric problems run lower among married men and women than among their unmarried peers. The married man or woman enjoyed “continuous companionship with a spouse who provides interpersonal closeness, emotional gratification and support in dealing with daily stress.”
Robert Coombs, “Marital Status and Personal Well-Being: A Literature Review,” Family Relations 40 (1991): 97-102.
A study found “that marriage continues to be beneficial for mental health.” Canadian men and women in a stable marriage experienced “significantly lower levels of distress relative to those who remain single, separated; or divorced.” In the short term, the psychological distress brought about by change in marital status impacted men and women equally.
Lisa Stronschein, Peggy McDonough, Georges Monette and Qing Shao, “Marital Transitions and Mental Health: Are There Gender Differences in the Short-Term Effects of Marital Status Change?” Social Science & Medicine 61 (2005): 2293-2303.)
Singleness was one of a number of important “psychosocial predictors of premature mortality.”
Carlos Iribarren, David Jacobs, Catarina Kiefe, Cora Lewis, Karen Matthews, Jeffrey Roseman and Stephen Hullley, “Causes and Demographic, Medical, Lifestyle and Psychosocial Predictors of Premature Mortality: The CARDIA Study,” Social Science & Medicine 60 (2005): 471-482.
“The size of the health gain from marriage is remarkable. It may be as large as the benefit from giving up smoking.”
Chris Wilson and Andrew Oswald, “How Does Marriage Affect Physical and Psychological Health? A Survey of the Longitudinal Evidence,” Institute for the Study of Labor,” Discussion Paper No. 1619 (2005).
“Virtually every study of mortality and marital status shows the unmarried of both sexes have higher death rates, whether by accident, disease or self-inflicted wounds, and this is found in every country that maintains accurate health statistics.”
Robert Coombs, “Marital Status and Personal Well-Being: A Literature Review,” Family Relations 40(1991): 97.
Marriage was associated with better health across all major health domains and across all types of conditions within health domains. Of the non-married groups, divorcees had the worst overall health profiles.
Amy Mehraban Pienta, Mark Hayward and Kristi Rahrig Jenkins, “Health Consequences of Marriage for the Retirement Years,” Journal of Family Issues 21, 5 (July, 2000): 569.
Among couples who married and stayed married, the per person net worth increased on average by 16 percent with each year of marriage. Compared to those who remained single, getting married increased one’s wealth, on average, by 93 percent.
Jay Zagorsky, “Marriage and Divorce’s Impact on Wealth,” Journal of Sociology 41, 4 (2005): 406-424.
Individuals who were not continuously married had significantly less household wealth than those who remained married throughout life. Average household wealth of unmarried adults was 63 percent lower than that of married adults. Within the category of unmarrieds, this reduction difference was 77 percent for the separated, 75 percent for the never-married, 73 percent for the divorced, 58 percent for the cohabiting and 45 percent for widows. The reduction difference was 86 percent for unmarried women and 61 percent for unmarried men.
Janet Wilmoth and Gregor Koso, “Does Marital History Matter? Marital Status and Wealth Outcomes Among Preretirement Adults,” Journal of Marriage and Family 64(2002): 254-268.
Analysis of the National Survey of Families and Households indicate that married men earn more than single, noncohabiting men. Wages appear to rise more rapidly following marriage. Leslie Stratton, “Examining the Wage Differential for Married and Cohabiting Men,” Economic Inquiry 40 (2002): 199-212.
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