Is Living Single & Alone Bad for Your Health?


A Canadian study determines living alone can be bad for your health.

Living alone could be harmful to your health – in fact it could lead to you dying sooner than you would if you were in a relationship. That’s the shock finding of's dating site technology provider, Atwood Technology, which has just completed an investigation into marriage, divorce, living alone and mortality.

The dating site also investigated whether more Canadians were living alone than their American counterparts and how divorce rates in the United States compared with those of Canada.

“Being single can be a very fulfilling life style for some but on average it can lead to less physical, economic and emotional well-being in addition to increased mortality rates that can be as much as 58% higher, as reported in a 2006 study by Kaplan and Kronick,” says Atwood Technology, CEO, Theresa Williams.

Drs Kaplan and Kronick found that the strongest predictor of mortality among participants in their study was never having been married before. To find out whether the trend to remain single was greater in Canada than the US, eMatchopolis examined trends in marriage percentages, marriage rates, divorce rates, age of first marriages and social aspects affecting marriage trends.

First, the percentage of the population aged 15 and over who are classified as single (divorced, widowed, single and not married in the common law sense, or separated) is 42.7% in the US (Source: US Census, 2008) and 41.8% in Canada (Source: Statcan, 2007). Although the difference is not significant, both the USA and Canada are seeing the gap narrowing over the long term with respect to marriage and divorce rates, which could impact the singles status in the two countries considerably in the years ahead.

The crude marriage rate was 11.2 per thousand population in the US and 6.8 in Canada in 2005 (Source Statcan, US Census). In addition, the crude marriage rate in the US decreased by 24.8% from 1990 to 2005 compared with a decrease in Canada of 32% during the same period. These facts demonstrate that Americans tend to marry more frequently than Canadians.

The divorce rate, on the other hand, demonstrates an opposite effect on the single population. Americans are more than twice as likely to divorce: their divorce rate is 5.4 (Source: US Census) per thousand compared to Canada’s divorce rate of 2.2 (Source: Statcan) for 2005. Furthermore, from 1990 to 2005, the Canadian divorce rate declined by 47%, while the American divorce rate declined by 25% during this same period (Source, Statcan; US Census).

It can be expected that fewer marriages would lead to fewer divorces. “Perhaps singles are taking their time to ensure the candidate they choose will make a lasting relationship. However, there is also a possibility that people are becoming too selective with their “laundry list” of requirements and never find anyone who can live up to their expectations. I would never encourage people to settle but they should be realistic about what they want. We are here to help them figure that out,” says Williams.

Are people being more selective? One indicator may be the average age of first marriage. In Canada the average age is 30 for men and 28 for women, a rise of five years for each category since 1973 (Source: Statcan, 2003). Although the USA has seen an increase as well, the average age is still lower than Canada with men marrying, on average, at 27, and women marrying at 25. This represents a rise of four years each since 1973 (Source: US Census).

Dr. Stacey MacKinnon, a Social Psychology Researcher and Professor at the University of Prince Edward Island attributes the trending increase in singlehood to other factors such as more economic options for women, which means they don’t have to marry for security anymore; a higher percentage of men who cannot “afford” to marry given the economic downturn; and the prolonged education of men and women.

This trending increase in singlehood has adverse effects on our society as a whole with the increased healthcare costs associated with the decrease in physical and emotional well-being. The USA Federal Government has recognized this as a growing concern and thus has implemented substantial initiatives, including the Healthy Marriage Initiative by the US Department of Health and Human Services to support and encourage stable marriages.

In conclusion, when we look at marriage rates, divorce rates, average age of marriage and percentage of population married, it is evident Canadians are more single than Americans. On the other hand, Americans are losing ground as can be seen in trends over the long-term, but perhaps with their initiatives they will be able to maintain a more stable marriage base. Whatever the outcome, one thing is clear: living alone can be bad for you, which is excellent motivation for getting out there to find your plus one. 

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.