International Handbook of Population Aging

Volume 1 of the series International Handbooks of Population pp 691-704

Marital History and Well-Being in Later Life

  • Linda J. WaiteAffiliated withNORC & University of Chicago

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Social scientists have known at least since Durkheim that social relationships are intimately tied to health and well-being. Those with many close personal ties do better, on average, than those with few, with social isolates particularly disadvantaged, as Durkheim pointed out in Suicide. Marriage tends to form the centerpiece of social networks in most societies and plays a key role in the production and distribution of social support, which is one of the reasons that married people tend to live longer, healthier lives than those who are not married.