When they reported excellent health, unmarried people in the study were on average 75% more likely to have died than married people. More specifically, separated folks were 58% more likely to die during these studies, divorced people were 62% more likely and widowed people were 93% more likely to kick the bucket compared to married people.
Marriage, then, can be a boon for a health. “It encourages people to maintain good health behaviors and have good social support and a sense of purpose in life,” says Zheng.
But while “marriage is good for health, … its protective effect declines as people’s health declines,” says Zheng. Unmarried people who reported fair (as opposed to excellent, very good, good or poor) health were 40% more likely to die than similar married people in the study. That breaks down to a 39% greater risk of dying for those who were separated, a 31% higher risk for divorced people and 20% higher risk of dying for widowed people compared to those who were married.