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Are married people really happier?

Seems most of the studies touting the increased happiness of married people have been making an error: they lump the divorced in with never-married.

Via Newsweek:

According to a new study, people over 40 who have never married could be just as psychologically resilient as their hitched peers. The finding challenges the reams of studies that conclude marriage is best for your health. And so it’s welcome news for the growing demographic of singletons who want recognition that they’re OK, too.

A team of psychologists from Lafayette College and the University of Miami mined data from the National Survey of Midlife Development to look at how more than 1,400 heterosexual married people and 100 never-married people ages 40 to 74 said they cope with life’s challenges. In their findings, published in November in The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, both the married and the single groups appeared to have similar levels of “psychological resources,” such as personal mastery, agency, and self-sufficiency, which predict a person’s general well-being and help ward off depression.

A major problem with earlier studies of single people is that they are often lumped in with the widowed or the divorced. According to Richard Lucas, associate professor of psychology at Michigan State, divorced people in particular have lower levels of well-being than the never-married. The authors of the November study tried to separate the never-married from the divorced by selecting single people over 40, since U.S. Census figures show that the majority of people who marry do so by age 39. According to another recent study, divorced middle-aged women–even those who remarried–were 60 percent more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease than their peers who stayed together.

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About Eric Barker