Beyoncé says if you liked it, then you should've put a ring on it; researchers, for their part, say putting a ring on it by the time middle age rolls around could mean a longer life.
A new study appearing in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine suggests that being single during one's forties is linked to a higher risk of early death, while having some type of permanent partner – which could mean a spouse – seems to actually be protective against dying prematurely.
The study's authors found that participants who never married were more than twice as likely to die early than those who'd been in a stable marriage throughout their adult life. People who were single, or whose partners died, saw their likelihood of living to an elderly age shrink, even when important factors like personality and affinity for risk were taken into account.
The findings suggest that it's not just the existence of a partner, but the consistency of a relationship that's "associated with midlife mortality." Researchers added that "social ties" during life's midpoint "are important to help us understand premature mortality."
If marital status is indeed a predictor, or at least a strong indicator, of an earlier death, South Los Angeles may have reason to be nervous. The Los Angeles Times' Mapping L.A. project shows nearly 47 percent of the males older than 15 in Adams-Normandie have never been married; the same is true for about 46 percent of the men in both Historic South-Central and Chesterfield Square.
The median age in those areas doesn't rise above 31, though, so according to the study, they still have time.
But again, the median age in those neighborhoods doesn't top 26, meaning that the unwed still have plenty of years before they start worrying about this study's findings.
The early-death effect of being single during middle age also applies to people whose partner died. Leimert Park has one of the biggest populations of widows and widowers in L.A. County: 15.4 percent and 4.6 percent of its population, respectively.
Photo by Enduser Null via Flickr Creative Commons.