CINCINNATI, Ohio (CBS Cleveland) — Married couples tend to live longer and adapt better to health setbacks than their single counterparts.

The number of Americans who live together without being married continues to rise — from 400,000 in 1960 to 7.6 million in 2011, according to Census data. However, new research indicates that married people live longer than those that cohabit.

Researchers Hui Liu of Michigan State University and Corinne Reczek at the University of Cincinnati looked at the national health survey data of nearly 200,000 people, taken from 1997 to 2004. They found that the rate of mortality among men in cohabitating relationships dropped by 80 percent, while the rate dropped 59 percent for women.

Additional studies are finding that married couples experience lower levels of heart disease, cancers, flu, Alzheimer’s, depression and stress, Karen Sherman, author of “Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, & Make It Last,” told the Deseret News.

Happily married individuals undergoing heart bypass surgery are three times more likely to stay alive 15 years later than their single peers, Sherman told the Deseret News.

American marriages as a whole have dropped from 2.45 million in 1990 to 2.08 in the year 2010, according to Census Bureau statistics. The study was published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.

“This helps us to understand the implications of this relatively new rise in cohabitation,” MSU sociologist Hui Liu, the study’s lead researcher, told the Deseret News. “Many assume marriage and cohabitation are wholly the same, but our research showed that cohabitation, generally, led to a shorter lifespan.”

However, not every marriage can promote longevity – some can even be considered harmful.

The study has been criticized for blind spots, such as its omission of differing degrees of marriage. High-conflict marriages have been shown to cause more stress, the study’s authors conceded.

Marriage is a mixed bag, Brooke wrote in the study. “A bad marriage can be lethal to your health and emotional well-being, but a good marriage can bring countless emotional and physical benefits.”

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