The ill effects on men of competing for a spouse

A study in the August issue of Demography found “guys who lived in areas where there was more competition for women wound up dying younger.” The findings were based on data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (a fantastic data source: “a long-term study of a random sample of 10,317 men and women who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957“) and Medicare and Social Security records.

According to the authors, there are multiple reasons why this might occur:

Perhaps the increased competition to find a wife made them feel more stress, which can have negative consequences for long-term health.

The men might have had to wait longer to get married, which could be bad for their health. A number of studies have shown that spouses (especially wives) play a role in contributing to one another’s health and survival.

In places where men outnumbered women, the men (on average) had to settle for what the researchers described as a “lower-quality spouse,” which could translate into less coddling and pampering from the wife and thus worse health.

This study is part of a growing body of research that suggest social factors, like the weight of our friends, have a profound influence on our well-being and lifespan.

Also: will the calculators of RealAge add this to their formula?