It might go without saying that the person you marry or live in a state of impending hellfire with will probably have a significant impact on your health. Say, for instance, you briefly become the highest-paid actress of all time, divorce your old, bald husband, then marry the strapping young actor famous for playing the stupid character on That 70s Show. In that instance, there's a slight chance that your life will be cut tragically short, probably in a grisly wake-boarding accident in Tahoe. If you're just some normie bopping along in the world and decide to get married, you can probably expect to live a little longer. Unless of course you're black, in which case marriage, according to new research, doesn't have any impact on your health at all.
A study from Michigan State University has suggested that, while marriage boosts the longevity of white couples, black couples don't seem to reap the same health benefits from the age-old method of land and livestock transference. "This finding implies," says sociologist Hui Liu, the study's lead researcher, "that marriage and cohabitation have very different meanings for blacks and whites." The number of people who cohabitate and merely dream that personified Troll Doll David Tutera will show up at their house one day and grant them the pirate-themed wedding of their dreams has increased by quite a bit over the last 50 years — census data shows that, while only 400,000 unmarried people shacked up back in 1960, 7.6 million were cohabitating as of 2011.
For white couples, the difference between being officially bound to one another and just sharing the same toilet was a few extra years of living. Liu and fellow researcher Corinne Reczek from the University of Cincinnati surveyed the health data of 200,000 people from 1997 to 2004, finding that white people who were married had lower mortality rates than white people who simply lived together. No such difference existed between married and unmarried black couples, something Liu attributes to the way white people and black people conceive of married life.
According to Liu, white people seem to consider cohabitation to be a sort of trial marriage, meaning that, during the trial period, they share lower levels of social, psychological, and economic resources. Among black couples, cohabitation is more prevalent and, therefore, thought of not so much as a marriage tryout, but rather as an alternative to marriage. This means that, especially for black couples, cohabitation mirrors marriage, and may therefore confer the same health benefits to black couples that marriage confers to white couples. Liu warns, though, that the evidence so far gathered doesn't necessarily indicate that cohabitation translates into positive health benefits. Since blacks tend to earn less than whites, Liu thinks that marriage may not offer them the same social and economic benefits as it does for white couples, and that the lack of difference.
All of this talk about marriage and increased longevity, though, is a little unnecessary, considering that the late Ernest Borgnine has already clued us all in on the real secret to long life.
For blacks, marriage doesn't lengthen life [Futurity]
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