13 May 2010

Unequal marriage and life expectancy

The difference in the age of spouses shortens the lives of wives, scientists have provedRIA News

Marriage, in terms of life expectancy, is more beneficial for men than for women: if marrying a younger woman increases a man's life expectancy, then any age difference between spouses negatively affects a woman's life expectancy, scientists from the Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock (Germany) write in an article published in Wednesday in the magazine Demography.

Previous studies have shown that men whose wives are younger live longer. It would be logical to assume that wives whose husbands are younger also have a longer life expectancy. However, the authors of the study, Sven Drefahl and his colleagues showed that the greater the age difference between spouses, the shorter the life expectancy of a wife (see the full text of the press release The downside of marriage for women: the greater a wife's age gap from her husband, the lower her life expectancy - VM). At the same time, it does not matter whether the wife is older than her spouse or younger.

In terms of life expectancy, the choice for men is simple: the younger the spouse, the better. The risk of death for husbands who are seven to nine years older than their wives is 11% lower than for those who are the same age as their spouses. On the contrary, husbands who are younger than their wives die earlier. For a long time, scientists believed that this ratio was true for both sexes. They believed that "health selection" plays a role here: those who choose partners younger than themselves do it because they are healthier themselves and, therefore, have a longer life expectancy.

It was also assumed that the younger spouse has a positive psychological and social effect on the older partner, takes better care of him, thus prolonging his life.

"These theories must now be revised. It seems that the reasons for the difference in mortality due to the age gap between the spouses remain unclear," says Drefal.

Using data on 2 million Danish married couples, Drefal and his colleagues showed that the best choice for a woman is to marry a peer. Marriage with an older man shortens a woman's life, but a husband younger than her shortens life expectancy even more.

The results of the study showed that women who married men seven to nine years older than them increased the risk of death by 20%. At the same time, "health selection" does not work: healthy women do not hunt for younger men at all.

This means that it is not profitable for women to marry men younger than themselves, but it is not clear why this shortens her life.

"One of the possible explanations is that couples where the husband is younger than the wife violate social norms and are subjected to social pressure," Drefal said. According to him, those who are married to men younger than themselves may violate the norms accepted in society, such couples may be considered outsiders and receive less social support. This, in turn, can lead to more stress, a decrease in the quality of life and, ultimately, an increase in mortality.

Dependence of the risk of death on the age difference between spouses

Although this study showed problems associated with marriage, however, this does not mean that marriage is generally unprofitable. Numerous studies have shown that marriage increases life expectancy for both men and women.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru13.05.2010

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