You’ll live longer if you tie the knot rather than stay single, a new study suggests, and if you stay married rather than split up. Using 1989 and 1997 data from the National Health Interview Survey and the National Death Index respectively, and measuring across a variety of demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, researchers found that being unmarried significantly increased one’s chances of dying during the period studied, and that this held true for a variety of causes—from cardiovascular disease to “external” causes like accident and suicide. (The correlation between never marrying and dying from an infectious disease was particularly strong, but this was presumably because of the impact of AIDS on gay unmarried men during the period studied.) Married people had a better life expectancy than widowed or divorced people, but having once been married was better than never having married at all: the widowed had a 39 percent greater risk of dying than the married, and the divorced or separated had a 27 percent higher risk, while the risk was 58 percent higher for those who had never wed in the first place.
—“Marital Status and Longevity in the United States Population,” Robert M. Kaplan and Richard G. Kronick, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
One of the most ominous signs that the Taliban and warlords in Afghanistan are trying to return to power is the emergence of a terrorist campaign against the country’s schools, according to a recent report by Human Rights Watch. Inlate 2005, attacks on teachers, schools, and aid workers sharply increased, and the trend has continued into this year. Schools have been rocketed and burned, teachers murdered (one by beheading), and bombs detonated in classrooms. “Night letters”—written threats ordering teachers and students to stop their work—have been posted at mosques and schools. (A late-2005 letter delivered a threat to “put acid on [the] faces” of girls attending school in Kandahar, prompting the local community to stop sending any girls over the age of ten to school.) Since schools are, for many Afghans, the main point of contact with the government, the terrorism campaign against education has been particularly damaging. Attacks on schools and education aid workers have “stunted and, in some places, even stopped … development and reconstruction work,” a situation that is already beginning to turn people in the south and southeast (the least secure regions) away from the central government. Unless the government of Afghanistan and the U.S.-led coalition take steps to increase security and protect schools, the report states, the country faces a “crisis of insecurity,” and another generation of Afghans will lose the chance for education and advancement.