People who never marry, especially men, could die earlier than those married and living with their spouse, says a study.
Researchers analysed the national census and death certification data, involving almost 67,000 adults in the US between 1989 and 1997.
In 1989, almost one in two of the samples were married, and almost one in 10 were widowed. Around 12 per cent were divorced and three per cent were separated. Of the remainder, five per cent were cohabiting, and one in five had never been married, reported science portal EurekAlert.
They found that those who had never been married were 58 percent more likely to die during 1989 and 1997, than their peers who were married and living with their spouse in 1989.
Those who had been widowed were almost 40 per cent more likely to die between 1989 and 1997. Those who had been divorced or separated were 27 per cent more likely to have died.
The "penalty" for the never married was larger for those in very good or excellent health, and smallest for those in poor health, and it was greater among men than women, according to the study that appeared in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
For the younger age group, the primary causes of death among those who had never married were infectious disease and "external" factors. Among the middle-aged and elderly the main causes were cardiovascular and chronic diseases.
Never married men were more vulnerable than their never married female counterparts, and never married men between the ages of 19 and 44 were more than twice as likely to die as married men of the same age.