Want to Live Longer, Women? Marry Someone Your Own Age

Cristen Conger

Assuming they want to be together 'til death do they part, men who marry younger women live longer. Statistically, if he weds someone seven to nine years his junior, he has an 11 percent lower mortality risk.

Now, a study of more than 2 million Danish couples has uncovered another compelling correlation between spousal age and longevity. Findings from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research indicate that spousal age gap is inversely proportional to the woman's longevity. The bigger the difference, the shorter she lives. Moreover, that same seven to nine year age gap, which benefited the men, has the opposite effect for women. According to the research, women who marry men 8 or so years older or younger have a 20 percent higher mortality risk. For comparison, the average spousal age gap in the U.S. is 2.3 years.

What's a gal to do to maximize longevity? Marry someone the same age, the study says.

At the same time, women tend to live longer than men and often at least five years at that. So really, armchair logic tells me the best-case scenario for two people wishing to grow old together would be for a woman to marry a slightly younger guy. She takes a minor hit in average longevity, allowing him to catch up to her greater life expectancy.

This also assumes that the two people actually like each other and want to stick together for the long haul. But I'm betting that strategically coupling to maximize longevity is a surefire way to spoil that magic.