U.S. News and World Report reports via HealthDay that “[c]ompared with unmarried women, married women are less likely to experience domestic abuse, substance abuse or postpartum depression around the time of pregnancy,” according to a study published last month in the American Journal of Public Health by Dr. Marcelo L. Urquia, Patricia J. O’Campo, and Joel G. Ray.

The study, entitled Marital Status, Duration of Cohabitation, and Psychosocial Well-Being Among Childbearing Women: A Canadian Nationwide Survey, was conducted with data on over 6,400 women from the 2006-2007 Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey. According to HealthDay’s report, the study found that 67 percent of separated or divorced women and 35 percent of always-single women dealt with domestic abuse, substance abuse, or postpartum depression. Twenty percent of cohabiting women and 10 percent of married women did so, though these problems diminished with duration of cohabitation.

Urquia stated, according to HealthDay, that “30 percent of children in Canada are born to unmarried couples, up from 9 percent in 1971,” and that the distinctions between married and cohabiting families were important, given out-of-wedlock birth’s rise.

The study’s abstract also noted that “[r]esearch on maternal and child health would benefit from distinguishing between married and unmarried cohabiting women, and their duration of cohabitation.” In fact, many studies do not distinguish between cohabiting households and married households and merely label these “two-parent families.”

For more on the benefits of marriage relative to other family structures, see the Marriage and Religion Research Institute’s 162 Reasons to Marry.