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Similar midlife health outcomes for those in married and non-marital cohabiting relationships

Women who marry in late 20s or early 30s have best health in midlife

A new study based on UK data indicates that men and women in non-marital cohabiting relationships have midlife health outcomes broadly similar to those in marriages. However, the research also found that women who had married in their late 20s or early 30s and remained married had the best health in midlife.

Women who never married or cohabited had worse health than married women. However, this effect was only manifested in fibrinogen levels, indicating that not marrying or cohabiting is less detrimental among women than men or, as has been suggested, being married appears to be more beneficial to men.

For Life-Course Partnership Status and Biomarkers in Midlife: Evidence From the 1958 British Birth Cohort, published in the American Journal of Public Health, the research team used data from the British National Child Development Study, a birth cohort study that includes all people born in Britain during a single week in March 1958. The study group numbered just over 10,000.

The research suggests that for both genders transitions from and to marriage and non-marital cohabitation do not have a detrimental effect on midlife health. There appeared to be no difference in the biomarkers used in the study between participants who divorced and subsequently remarried or cohabited and those who were married for the duration of the observation period. The researchers also found that men who divorced in their late 30s and did not subsequently remarry were less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome in midlife.

The research team comprised George B. Ploubidis, PhD, Richard J. Silverwood, PhD, Bianca DeStavola, PhD, and Emily Grundy, PhD.

The study can be found here.