The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - November 16

Being married gives you a significantly higher chance of staying alive after the age of 65, according to new research by four Italian universities. Having a spouse means older people of both sexes are 12% less likely to die over a given period, whether they are living in the United States or Europe, the Italian study found.

While it has long been accepted that emotional well-being and human relationships contribute to good health, the findings quantified for the first time the statistical advantage offered by marriage. The authors of the study used sophisticated scientific analysis methods which enabled them to collect and use all published data and studies on the links between marital status and mortality.

They found that there were differences in the statistical disadvantage that unmarried people have when they get past 65. Those that were divorced or separated were 16% more likely to die than married people. For those that were widowed or who had never been married, the difference was 11%.

The advantage held by the married population proved to be constant over the seven-year period examined. The research was carried out by experts at the D'Annunzio University in Chieti, the Italian Institute of Social Medicine, Rome's La Sapienza University and the Sacro Cuore University, also in Rome.

It was to be published this week in Social Science and Medicine, the most prestigious journal in the field of social medicine. The findings were believed to be the first comprehensive and clear estimates of the impact of a social factor on the health of the old.