Divorce hurts health more at earlier ages

January 30, 2012, Michigan State University
A study by Michigan State University sociologist Hui "Cathy" Liu suggests that divorce at a younger age hurts people's health more than divorce later in life. Credit: Michigan State University

Divorce at a younger age hurts people's health more than divorce later in life, according to a new study by a Michigan State University sociologist.

Hui Liu said the findings, which appear in the research journal & Medicine, suggest older people have more coping skills to deal with the stress of .

"It's clear to me that we need more social and family support for the younger divorced groups," said Liu, assistant professor of sociology. "This could include divorce counseling to help people handle the stress, or offering marital therapy or prevention programs to maintain marital satisfaction."

Liu analyzed the self-reported of 1,282 participants in Americans' Changing Lives, a long-term national survey. She measured the gap in health status between those who remained married during the 15-year study period and those who transitioned from marriage to divorce, at certain ages and among different birth cohorts, or generations.

Liu found the gap was wider at younger ages. For example, among people born in the 1950s, those who got divorced between the ages of 35 and 41 reported more health problems in relation to their continuously married counterparts than those who got divorced in the 44 to 50 age range.

From a generational perspective, the negative health impact was stronger for baby boomers than it was for older generations – a finding that surprised Liu.

"I would have expected divorce to carry less stress for the younger generation, since divorce is more prevalent for them," she said.

Liu said this may be because the pressure to marry and stay married was stronger for older generations, and so those who did divorce may have been among the most unhappily married – and thus felt a certain degree of relief when they did divorce.

Overall, the study found that those who transition from marriage to divorce experience a more rapid health decline than those who remain married. However, those who remained divorced during the entire study period showed no difference than those who remained married.

"This suggests it is not the status of being married or divorced, per se, that affects health, but instead is the process of transitioning from marriage to divorce that is stressful and hurts health," Liu said.

Explore further: Large weight gains most likely for men after divorce, women after marriage

Related Stories

Large weight gains most likely for men after divorce, women after marriage

August 22, 2011
Both marriage and divorce can act as "weight shocks," leading people to add a few extra pounds – especially among those over age 30 - according to a new study.

Recommended for you

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.