Kevin Burns, Intern
We’ve all seen advertisements for wonder-fixes that will make you healthier, happier, more fit, better looking, and richer. But who knew that the world’s greatest “fix” might be right in front of our eyes? Granted, starting expenses can be pricey, but considering long-term economic benefits, it’s a steal! He might not quite be Vince the Shamwow, but Norwegian economist Øystein Kravdal’s new study finds that getting married and having a family could decrease your risk of dying by up to a third.
Kravdal’s study “Family Life History and Mortality in Norway,” recently published in the Population and Development Review, tracks the marriage and childbearing history of Norway’s population since 1960. He tracks men and women separately, as well as nineteen different marital status and marital history categories.
Science has long shown that unmarried men are far more likely to die than married men. But Kradval’s study adds in the benefits of having children. Among married men, those without children are 36% more likely to die than their counterparts who have fathered two or more children. In stark contrast, divorced men with no children have a 300% higher risk of dying than married men with two or more children.
The study shows similar results for women. Married women without children run a 61% higher risk of mortality than married women with two or more children. As with men, divorced women without children are almost 300% more likely than married women with children – and close to 100% more likely to die than divorced women with children.
Scientists have speculated about the causes of these trends for years. Many suspect that married people live longer because of selection – healthy people are more likely to marry and have children. Similarly, particularly in men, having dependents can decrease risky behavior and the likelihood of suicide. Whatever the cause, in a culture obsessed with longevity and youth, marriage and children could be the fix we’ve all been looking for.