Want longer life? Stay in your marriage, new data suggests

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Stay in your marriage to live a longer life, according to US government data, which shows that the longevity gap between singles and married people is growing.

A 7% decline in the age-adjusted death rate for married individuals aged 25 and over was reported between 2010 and 2017, according to a new study from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The new study revealed only a 2% decline in the death rate for those who never married, while the figures for divorced people did not change.

"Not only is the rate for married lower, but it's declining more than any other group," said lead author and NCHS statistician Sally Curtin.

Death rate refers to the annual number of deaths for every 100,000 people. Adjustments were made so a 26-year-old and an 80-year-old married or widowed or divorced are on equal footing.

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Researchers discovered a 6% increase in the death rate among widowed individuals. They also recorded the highest death rate of all the categories.

Part of the marriage benefit could be explained by the fact that people in good health are more likely to marry, said Katherine Ornstein, an associate professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Once you're in a marriage, there are a host of tangible and intangible benefits that give you a health advantage, experts said.

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Numbers show that married men in 2017 had an age-adjusted death rate of 943 per 100,000, while widowers had 2,239. Lifelong bachelors recorded a death rate of 1,735 per 100,000 while divorced men had 1,773.

Married people are more likely to have health insurance, and therefore, have better access to health care, said Ornstein.

Being married, according to Michael Rendall, director of the Maryland Population Research Center at the University of Maryland, also means you have someone looking out for you and reinforcing healthy behaviors.