Marriage 'drives women to drink'
MARRIAGE appears to drive women to drink but has the opposite effect on men, a study has suggested.
Far from encouraging men to patronise a local pub to escape from domestic duties, marriage actively reduces their alcohol intake, according to research being presented at the American Sociological Association yesterday. However, the effect on women of walking down the aisle appears to be the opposite.
The researchers found that married women generally drink more heavily than single women, widows, or divorcees.
By contrast, men who are happily married drink less than their bachelor friends and significantly less than divorced men.
The reason, the researchers conclude, is that while women can help keep their husbands' drinking habits under control, men can have a bad influence on their wives.
Previous studies have shown that, overall, married people tend to drink less. But past research has not separated married and non-married groups by gender.
A group of sociologists led by Corinne Reczek, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati, reviewed data from a long-running study of behaviour involving thousands of people in Wisconsin.
They also looked at a separate set of 120 interviews with married, divorced, widowed and single people.
They found that while, overall, men consistently drink more than women and were more likely to have an alcohol problem, married men tended to drink significantly less than their male counterparts in every other marital status.
The researchers also concluded that getting married or divorced had a "dynamic relationship" on drinking habits.
The biggest difference was between men who were happily married and those who were recently divorced, suggesting that they turned to alcohol during their marital break-up.
Among women, the pattern was the opposite.
Despite the stress of a break-up, divorced women generally drank less than those still with their husbands, the researchers found.
Last year, a study by researchers at Cardiff University suggested that married people were more likely to eat healthily and had a 15pc lower incidence of premature death. (© Daily Telegraph, London)