Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 3 Issue 1 (April 1993), Pages fmi-fmi, 1-86

Living alone, marital status, gender and health (pages 1-15)

Abstract

Non‐married people have generally been found to be less healthy than the married. It has been suggested that this difference may be brought about by the greater lack of social integration of those living alone. This hypothesis was tested by comparing the health of those living alone with those living with another person in the four non‐married categories of never married, separated, divorced and widowed for women and men separately, initially controlling for age, education and income and subsequently adding five proximate indices of social integration. The person lived with was further categorized as an adult, cohabitee, child aged 4 or under, child aged 5 to 17, adult child, parent, relative or non‐relative. The three indices of health were the 30‐item General Health Questionnaire of psychological distress. a 15‐item checklist of common physical symptoms and alcohol intake. The main differences obtained were that women living alone drank more alcohol than those cohabiting or living with a child aged 4 or under, and that widowers living alone were more psychologically distressed than those living with an adult child, even when social integration was controlled. The results suggested that living alone was not generally associated with poor health and so could not account for the difference between the married and non‐married.

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