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Marriage helps weather health issues: study

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Riding out health problems and economic downturns can be a lot easier if you’re married, suggests new research.

Riding out health problems and economic downturns can be a lot easier if you’re married, suggests new research.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia studied the impact of health issues, such as coping with disability, on marriages. They analyzed data from a Statistics Canada report on Canadian households ? the Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics ? from 1999 and 2002.

They found that in marriages in which “main earners” financially support “second earners,” who are often wives, main earners are compensated during times of need, such as a serious illness, by being cared for. The second earners also smooth out financial problems that may arise, by earning enough to keep the household afloat.

The longer the marriage, the more effectively this partnership works, the data suggests.

Men who are ill or disabled early on in life do not fare as well as those who are healthy wage earners, the study finds, and “lose the insurance offered by marriage.” They tend not to marry, or see their marriages end sooner, according to the research.

Not surprisingly, men with health problems see marriage as a safety blanket.

“Men who are at high risk of receiving idiosyncratic shocks value marriage early in life, when they are poor in assets and human capital, while all men value marriage at the late stages of their working life as they approach retirement and periods of high health risk,” reads the study.

The research shows that marriages in which the healthy spouse is the main earner enjoy more stable, longer and successful marriages.

The working paper is currently published online by the Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis, a private, non-profit organization dedicated to independent research in applied and theoretical economics.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

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