Economic and Social Research Council
Healthy living with long-time partner
Several studies have found that marriage has health benefits, but new research shows that living in a partnership – married or not – is good for your health. Couples living together in long-term relationships seem to be as healthy as married couples, according to a study led by Dr Brienna Perelli-Harris at the ESRC Centre for Population Change.
The study compared data from five countries: the US, UK, Australia, Germany and Norway. The findings indicate that there is a consistent, positive association between living in a partnership and health in middle age across all countries.
Partnerships seem to be important for both men and women's health, but other aspects of people's lives contribute to how they rate their health – and whether they feel that they benefit from living with a partner.
Earlier research suggests that in the UK and US, living together without being married is associated with disadvantage and poverty. Welfare policies can also strengthen this trend; low benefits coupled with low income can make it more difficult for individuals to become sufficiently secure financially to feel they are in a position to marry.
In contrast to the US and UK, respondents in Australia, Norway, and Germany rate their health at similar levels regardless of whether they are cohabiting or married in middle age. In Australia there is a legal recognition of cohabiting partnerships which likely follows a general social acceptance where fewer people feel the need to marry. Norway has a long history of cohabitation without any current stigma attached, and is moving towards legally equalising cohabitation and marriage.
“Significant differences between cohabitation and marriage are only evident in the US and the UK, however they disappear when economic background is taken into account,” the researchers state in a concluding paragraph. “The findings suggest that cohabitation in the US and UK, both liberal welfare regimes, seems to be very different than in the other countries. The results challenge the assumption that only marriage is beneficial for health.”
- Contact: Dr Brienna Perelli-Harris, Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton
- Brienna Perelli-Harris et.al.: Do Marriage and Cohabitation Provide Benefits to Health in Mid-Life? The Role of Childhood Selection Mechanisms and Partnership Characteristics Across Countries (Population Research and Policy Review)
Latest News from
Economic and Social Research Council
Video game teaches amateur athletes about 'fitness' drugs danger31/10/2019 09:25:00
Virtual reality is being used to educate young fitness and sports enthusiasts about the risks of taking performance-enhancing drugs (PED) such as anabolic steroids and testosterone.
People who have been homeless should have voice in decision-making, says study30/10/2019 11:37:00
trategies to combat rising homelessness should be based on the views of people directly affected by the problem, according to an ongoing joint study.
New tool will detect illegal trades in wildlife, say researchers29/10/2019 16:37:00
Special software that uses artificial intelligence to recognise potential illegal sales of wildlife and animal parts has been developed by researchers.
Economic and Social Research Council's celebration of social science returns for 201929/10/2019 14:28:00
The UK's biggest celebration of social science returns this November as the Economic and Social Research Council’s Festival of Social Science highlights the impact of social science research on people's lives, with nearly 500 free events taking place right across the country.
'Extreme' job demands fuelling gender divide, says study29/10/2019 13:37:00
Employers' excessive demands on staff, including overly long hours and being constantly available, are to blame for women with children not advancing in their careers, according to a new study.
Web tours reveal plight of 'no man's land' communities29/10/2019 11:47:00
A Colombian rebel leader's jungle villa, a Trident jet abandoned in the Cyprus buffer zone and France's WWI killing fields are among the virtual reality 'tours' available through an innovative research project.
Imperial War Museum collaboration explores experiences of refugees28/10/2019 09:25:00
Imperial War Museums (IWM) has announced its 2020 programme, including the Refugees season which will invite visitors to explore refugee experiences throughout history and the ongoing issues faced by those affected.
Pre-announcement: UKERC – Director Opportunity17/10/2019 09:25:00
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), on behalf of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), will shortly be inviting applications for new interdisciplinary director of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC).