Health in China
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A new study out of China found a 15 per cent drop in mortality rate among people who did not get married. Photo: Shutterstock

Married Chinese and Asians are 15 per cent less likely to die of any cause than unmarried counterparts of a similar age, survey finds

  • More than 600,000 people from four Asian countries – including China and Japan – were interviewed during the research
  • Despite potential health benefits of being wed, the number of young Asian adults tying the knot is on the decline

As the famous song goes “love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage” and recent research suggests that however bumpy the ride, being hitched will help you live longer.

A cohort study of more than half-a-million people has found that – in general – married couples in China and in neighbouring countries are 15 per cent less likely to die from any cause compared to their unmarried counterparts.
They are also about 20 per cent less likely to die from heart diseases and external causes such as accidents, according to the study, published in the journal, JAMA Network Open, late last month.

Its findings were based on the analysis of the medical records of more than 623,000 people from mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea, aged 54 on average, over a period of 15 years.

‘Get married and live longer’, one study finds. Photo: Shutterstock

Compared with married people, those who are single also have an excess 17 per cent risk of circulatory system diseases and 14 per cent excess risk of respiratory illness, the study showed.

Being married is especially beneficial to men of all ages and both genders below the age of 65, it suggested.

One of the reasons married people live longer could be due to the fact that it is people who are healthier and have favourable socio-economic and psychosocial status who tend to tie the knot, it said.

Previous studies have suggested a similar link between marital status and mortality, but they mostly focused on Western populations.

The recent study also said marriages in East Asia are distinctive because couples are more likely to live with extended family and have stronger family ties in general.

The study added that “ … pronounced marital selection outcomes and the financial burdens of single-earner households in Asian society” may have contributed to the higher mortality among single Asians.

The study surveyed over 623,000 medical records. Photo: Shutterstock

“Together, we hypothesised that being married would be associated with survival benefits in Asian populations,” it concluded.

However, despite the potential health benefits, a growing number of young adults in Asia are avoiding marriage as the region experiences greater economic growth.

The change is particularly rapid in urban China amid rising living costs and the growing pursuit of diversity and individuality.

Official Chinese data shows that the number of newlywed couples has dropped for the past eight years in a row, falling by nearly 50 per cent from about 13.47 million in 2013 to 7.6 million last year.

About 44 per cent of Chinese women aged between 18 and 26 from urban areas and a quarter of urban men in the same age group said they do not plan to marry, according to a survey by the Communist Youth League in October last year.