Men and women who are married or in long-term relationships are more likely to survive to old age than ‘singletons’, according to new research.
Scientists from the Duke University Medical Centre in the US have found that being married, or being in a permanent stable relationship, can lead to a longer life, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Middle-aged people without a spouse or long-term partner were discovered to be at greater risk of premature death than those who were settled down with their other half, they said.
So stark was the difference in outcomes that those who never married or settled down with a long-term companion were more than twice as likely to die in middle age than those who had been in a stable relationship throughout their adult life, the research showed.
Even when personality and risky behaviours were controlled for, marital status continued to have a major impact on survival into old age, researchers from said.
The increased emotional support enjoyed by married people was thought to be an important factor in helping them to live to an old age.
Dr. Ilene Siegler and colleagues examined the effect of marriage history and the timing of marriage on premature death during midlife, analysing data on 4,802 people born in the 1940s.
The authors of the study, published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine journal, said: "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."
It is not the first time marriage has been shown to have a beneficial effect on one’s health.
The mental health of people with long-term partners has been found to be better than that of singletons.
Men and women in relationships for longer than five years are less likely to be depressed, consider or attempt suicide, or be dependent on alcohol or drugs, research has shown previously.
Any single man wanting to act on the latest findings about the correlation between being alone and dying in middle age might want to consider their choice of partner carefully, however. It has been suggested in one study that a man’s chances of dying early are cut by a fifth if their bride is between 15 and 17 years their junior.