For a long time, one of the biggest arguments for tying the knot and settling down was that it was good for your health—studies consistently showed that married people were healthier and lived longer than their single counterparts. Now, new research suggests that’s no longer the case.
According to the study, authored by Dmitry Tumin, a sociology researcher at the Ohio State University, marriage was only correlated with better health if couples were together ten years or longer, and even then, only among women. On top of that, Tumin noted that the effect was “completely attenuated among women in the youngest birth cohort.”
And when it came to the youngest people in the study (which included married people born between 1955 and 1984), there was no protective effect related to being married. In other words: Single people now appear to be exactly as healthy as married people.
“It seems unlikely that marriage of any kind would directly cause large improvements in health in recent birth cohorts,” Tumin wrote.
There are a lot of reasons marriage may no longer be associated with better health. Fewer people than ever are getting married and those who do tend to be older than in previous generations. Women, in particular, have more socioeconomic freedom than in the past, meaning that single women are better equipped to live healthy, fulfilled lives alone. And, more and more people are finding support and companionship outside of marriage now, living with roommates or parents to mitigate living costs.
Finally, as Tumin notes, marriage may be a bigger source of stress today than it was in the past.
“Work-family conflict has increased in the closing decades of the 20th century, and spouses’ actual time spent together has decreased over this period,” Tumin wrote. “Against a backdrop of greater demands at home and at work, and less time spent together, today’s married couples may indeed experience marriage more as a source of conflict and stress than as a resource that safeguards their health.”
Feel free to share this news with any relatives who nag you about your single status.