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Decisions to marry, divorce, may be shaped by life expectancy

Results of a new behavioral study seem to bolster the notion that the greater human life expectancy is, the more it affects how we behave. As Arizona-based family law attorneys, we can't help but propose that the findings also seem to recommend the importance of having appropriate legal documents, such as premarital, postmarital, and cohabitation agreements, to guide how individual or joint assets should be handled in the event life situations change.

What the researchers say they found, in broad strokes, is that as life expectancy has increased, people married and had children later. At the same time, instances of divorce or abortion were higher. The analysis of government statistics from various Canadian provinces and cities also showed that individuals tended to invest more in their personal educations if life expectancy was longer.

The researchers out of a university in Toronto say they were guided by the theory that human behaviors change depending on how long we think we'll live. In this scenario, those who think they'll live longer would be expected to delay marriage and a possible family. Those who expect to live shorter lives would be more inclined to marry early and stay that way because of a lack of time to find a new partner.

Scientists said that's just what they found. Now, they say, more research is needed to determine whether there are particular decisions are also influenced by particular cues. They say another question that deserves exploring is whether continued increases in life expectancy will continue to push out ages of marriage and reproduction, or whether some natural law of diminishing return might lead to a drop off at some point.

Source: Global Montreal, "Major life decisions may be influenced by life expectancy," Carmen Chai, April 9, 2012

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