Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Choice of life partner may affect health

One's socio-economic status is an important predictor for all kinds of behavioural patterns, but also affects health status. It is known that having a higher socio-economic status, which includes income and education, relates to better health. The same holds true for people in relationships. Couples with higher socio-economic status are in better shape than those with a lower status. This may seem obvious, as two people with a high status are bound to do better than a couple with lower status. However, a new study shows that the socio-economic situation of your partner may independently influence your own health.

A lot of research is done on socio-economical factors and their influence on well-being. It is of no surprise that a higher education and higher income lead to better health outcomes, but there seems to be more to it than that. A large Norwegian population study including more than 19.000 people was used to assess whether the socio-economic status of one's partner can independently affect health. That means the scientists conducting the study tried to find out whether people that have a partner of high socio-economic status do better than those that have a partner of low socio-economic status, independent of their own status.

According to the researchers, couples with higher level of education are perceived as more healthy than those with a lower level of eduction. In this study, education was used as a measurement for socio-economic status. The outcome is hardly surprising and corresponds to previous research, but the scientists also showed something else: people who have a lower level of education but have a partner with a higher level of education, tend to do better than those who have a partner of equal education level. A similar trend is observed with people of higher education.

The study seems to indicate that partners have a certain effect on each other's health, and this effect can possibly be explained by socio-economic status. However, it is unclear how big this effect is, and what the underlying reasons may be for the observations. More research will be needed to elucidate the true mechanisms behind the observed correlations.

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