Proponents of marriage like to toss around the statistic that married people (and married men in particular) are happier and healthier than the wretched ranks of the unwed. But new research has found that the happiness/health gap is narrowing, not because the married crew is losing its happy glow (though that may indeed be occurring), but because the single component is getting happier.
The study, led by Hui Liu, assistant professor of sociology at Michigan State University, used data from the National Health Interview Survey from 1972 to 2003. The researchers found that while the self-reported health of the married is “still better than that of the never-married,” the “gap has closed considerably.” Single women shouldn’t rejoice just yet: The uptick was due overwhelmingly to improvements in the health of never-married men. Liu thinks that this result may be “partly because never-married men have greater access to social resources and support that historically were found in a spouse.” (Female robots, perhaps? Or Internet porn?) Still, single women also saw an increase, and the singles health boost also spread across racial lines to both blacks and whites.
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The results of this study don’t really surprise me. I know a lot of very happy single people (and while I’m not single now, I would say that I was very happy being single, too). They just focus on work, school, friendships, and hobbies, and don’t let themselves dwell on their singleness or let themselves feel lonely. They learn to be happy with what they do have and not worry about what they don’t have. What do you think?