Women, be warned: Boy toys and sugar daddies alike are bad for your health.
Researchers have long thought that younger spouses were better for both men and women. But new data gleaned from crunching demographic numbers from 2 million Danish couples destroy that theory.
While younger wives are better for men’s health, researcher Sven Drefahl told the Star on Thursday, younger husbands can be deadly for women.
Women who marry men seven to nine years younger increase their mortality risk by 20 per cent, the study found. In contrast, men who marry younger women decrease their mortality risk by 11 per cent.
“The findings are strong, but the conclusions are not. We cannot explain the findings in women very well.
“One of the few possible explanations is that couples with younger husbands violate social norms and thus suffer from social sanctions,” said Drefahl. The study is published in this month’s journal Demography.
“Also, men are more dependent on the social contact of their spouse, so the effect of the death of a spouse is more severe in men.”
Thus, a younger husband may not enrich a woman’s social life or provide companionship and support late in life. A younger wife, however, appears to be able to do all of those things.
His next stage of research: to compare health records against these findings.
“I’d like to know whether a man who is healthy is marrying a woman who is much younger, or (if) it is a man less healthy, and the same for women.”
In particular, because the number of women who marry much younger men is small, Drefahl wants to see if they, as a group, share certain health aspects.
Much older husbands don’t help a woman, either, said Drefahl, who performed the analysis for the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany.
Although not many hit the mark, a woman’s best choice is to marry a man of exactly the same age: Even an older man shortens a woman’s life somewhat.
Drefahl cautions that marriage overall still raises life expectancy for women and men compared with people who don’t marry.