News The Day in Correlation/Causation Fallacies, Part 2
posted by November 1 at 16:18 PMon
Another study, this one by researchers at the University of Iowa (note the unintentionally hilarious/uninformative caption) found that rural women who get divorced suffer higher rates of physical and mental health problems than women who stay married.
During the years immediately after divorce - from 1991 to 1994 - the divorced women reported 7 percent higher levels of psychological distress than married women. They did not report any differences in physical illness at that time.
A decade later, however, the divorced women reported 37 percent more physical illness, but no difference in psychological stress that could be directly linked to the divorce, said Lorenz, who co-authored the study with K.A.S. Wickrama, Rand Conger and Glen Elder. The research was conducted out of the Institute for Social and Behavioral Research based at Iowa State.
Remarrying, the study found, produced “positive influences on the women’s health.”
A few problems here. First, might it be the case that women don’t have mental health problems because they’re single, but because society isn’t exactly supportive of single women? Particularly rural ones (who lack job opportunities, quality health care and a stable safety net) and moms (who have to take care of kids alone)? Again, correlation (women get divorced; women become unhealthier) does not imply causation (marriage makes women healthy). There are too many factors at play here to reach such a simplistic conclusion.