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Study says Divorce at a Young Age Hurts Worst

Bride and Groom on Cake.jpgA new Michigan State University study finds divorce at a younger age hurts people’s health more than divorce later in life. Study author and sociology professor Dr. Hui Liu said the findings, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, suggest older people have more coping skills to deal with the incredible stress that results from a divorce.

Liu said the findings indicate that there ought to be “more social and family support for the younger divorced groups.” Liu suggested that this might include “divorce counseling to help people handle the stress, or offering marital therapy or prevention programs to maintain marital satisfaction.”

Liu analyzed the self-reported health status of some 1,282 participants in a long-term national survey. She measured the gap in overall health between those who remained married during the 15-year study period and those who transitioned from marriage to divorce and at what age.

Liu found the gap was wider at younger ages. For example, among people born in the 1950s, those who got divorced between the ages of 35 and 41 reported more health problems in relation to their continuously married counterparts than those who got divorced in the 44 to 50 age range. Researchers were surprised to learn that divorce appears to have a more negative health impact for baby boomers than for individuals in older generations. Liu said she would have expected divorce to be less impactful for younger generations because divorce is so much more common among their age cohorts.

Liu offered an explanation for the difference. Perhaps because the pressure to stay married is so strong among older generations only those with the unhappiest marriages actually moved for divorce and thus, felt relief when the divorce was finalized.

The study confirmed something we mentioned in a previous post (Divorce Can Kill), that those who went from marriage to divorce experienced a generally more rapid health decline than those who remained married. It’s good to hear that those who remained divorced during the entire study period showed no difference with those who remained married.


Liu said that this result shows that “it is not the status of being married or divorced, per se, that affects health, but instead is the process of transitioning from marriage to divorce that is stressful and hurts health.”

If you find yourself facing the prospect of divorce, you need to contact an experienced Charlotte family law attorney who can help guide you through the stressful process.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Divorce Can Kill

Protecting Your Finances in a North Carolina Divorce