US/World

Men Are 30% More Likely to Die After Losing Their Wife, but Women Remain Unaffected

old couple
Men are significantly more likely to die after losing their wife compared to women who have lost their husbands. Marcel Oosterwijk/Flickr

Men are significantly more likely to die after losing their wife compared to women who have lost their husbands, a new study suggests.

Researchers analyzed data records from married people born between 1910 and 1930 to study when partners died in relation to one another.

They found that men were 30 percent more likely to die after being recently widowed, compared with their normal risk of mortality, according to researchers from the Rochester Institute of Technology in America.

However, wives had no increased chance of dying after their husbands died, leading researchers to suggest that this may be because women are more independent and prepared.

 "When a wife dies, men are often unprepared. They have often lost their caregiver-someone who cares for them physically and emotionally, and the loss directly impacts the husband's health," lead researcher Javier Espinosa, assistant professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, said in a statement.

"This same mechanism is likely weaker for most women when a husband dies. Therefore, the connection in mortalities for wives may be a reflection of how similar mates' lives become over time," he added.

Espinosa and his team also studied maternal mortality using data from more than 69,000 mothers aged between 20 and 50 over nine years.

They found a strong connection between the death of child and the mortality of the mother

Espinosa found that even after taking into account the cause of death, gender of the child, marital status, family size, income or education level of the mother, those who had lost a child were three times more likely to die in the two years immediately following their child's death. In fact, researchers found that the mother's overall mortality increases 133 percent after the death of a child.

"To my knowledge, this is the first study to empirically analyze this issue with a large, nationally represented US data set," Espinosa said.

"The evidence of a heightened mortality rate for the mother, particularly in the first two years of the child's passing, is especially relevant to public health policy and the timing of interventions that aim to improve the adverse health outcomes mothers experience after the death of a child," he added.

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