Married people are generally healthier than unmarried people, as measured by numerous health outcomes.
To investigate the complex relationship between marriage and health, this review scrutinizes recent research, focusing on studies that use rigorous statistical methods to examine whether marriage is a cause of these better health outcomes.
A focus on the most rigorous recent evidence reveals that marriage has positive effects on certain health-related outcomes.
These studies find, for example, that marriage improves certain mental health outcomes, reduces the use of some high-cost health services (such as nursing home care), and increases the likelihood of having health insurance coverage. In addition, an emerging literature suggests that growing up with married parents is associated with better health as an adult. Marriage has mixed effects on health behaviors — leading to healthier behaviors in some cases (reduced heavy drinking) and less healthy behaviors in others (weight gain). For other key health outcomes — in particular, measures of specific physical health conditions-the effects of marriage remain largely unaddressed by rigorous research.