Posted by Patrick Hart, Partner
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Cohabitation is just as beneficial as marriage in terms of health
A new study based on UK data indicates that men and women in non-marital cohabiting relationships have midlife health outcomes similar to those in marriages.
The study in question used 10,000 subjects from the British national Child Development Study, a birth cohort study that includes all people born in Britain during one week in March 1958.
Participants were able to select their partnership status as married, cohabitating, or single.
The researchers conducted blood and respiratory system tests to assess the participants’ health.
The study’s results varied by gender. Among men, those who had never married/cohabitated displayed poorer overall health than men who were married.
By contrast, not marrying or cohabiting had less of a detrimental effect on women than on men.
For women, the timing of the marriage mattered. Those who were married in their late 20s or early 30s had the overall best health, beating out both women who had married in their early 20s and women who were never married/cohabiting.
Overall, the researchers found that non-marital cohabitation had similar effects as marriage in respect to midlife health.
The results were published in the academic American Journal of Public Health and they appear to back up previous studies on the subject. In 2013, Finnish researchers claimed that, on average, married men live seven years longer than those who remain single.
In terms of generalisation, the researchers in the latest study note that their findings may be specific to people born in or around the year 1958, as attitudes about partnership and marriage continue to change for younger generations.
Considering the rise in cohabitation among younger generations, more data was required for comparison, they said.
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