Of course, the stats aren’t 100 percent positive: Marriage has also been linked to an increased risk of weight gain. And not all studies have come to the same conclusions, especially those where participants self-report on their own health. While older research in this vein has generally shown a strong association between good health and marriage, more recent work has suggests that this protective effect is weakening — and a new study published earlier this month in the journal Social Science Quarterly suggests that it no longer exists at all.
The study, a comparison of married people born between 1955 and 1984, shows that while older generations see improved overall health with marriage, the effect has deteriorated over time. Married people only had the edge in relationships that had lasted ten years or more, and only among women — an effect that “was completely attenuated among women in the youngest birth cohort,” wrote study author Dmitry Tumin, a sociology researcher at the Ohio State University. Compared to their never-married counterparts, the youngest cohort didn’t experience any protective effect with marriage.