DIVORCE
04/20/2012 07:25 pm ET | Updated Apr 21, 2012

Life After Divorce: Does Divorce Affect Your Well-Being?

Does divorce negatively impact your well-being?

New data measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index released Friday shows that divorced and separated Americans' well-being differs greatly from those who are married.

Divorcees and those who are currently separated from their partners experience the lowest levels of well-being, with scores of 59.7 and 55.9, respectively. They lag behind their wedded counterparts, who experience the highest levels of well-being at 68.8. A score of 100 is considered "ideal well-being," according to the report.

Gallup editor Jeffrey Jones called the results, which were based on a random sample of 353,492 adults, "staggering. "

"We usually don’t see huge differences in wellbeing over time or across demo groups," he said via email. "It could be the biggest differences we see for any subgroup," which include race and gender.

The Well-Being Index score is an average of six sub-indexes, which examine emotional health, physical health, life evaluation, work environment, heath behaviors, and access to basic necessities. Respondents were contacted via telephone and self reported information within these categories.

Jones said he wasn't surprised by the differences between the married and the separated or divorced groups given the "emotional and financial toll" the end of a marriage can take on a person.

"We don’t know how long the divorced people have been divorced, but it could be that some of them have moved on, that their divorce is behind them and that they are re-adjusting to their new life," he said. "Separated [people] are likely right in the middle of it, just in the beginning stages of going through the process of ending their marriage, or trying to save it."

It's not the first time research has indicated differences in well-being between married and separated or divorced people. In 2008, a study led by Michigan State University researcher Hui "Cathy" Liu found that that the self-reported health of divorced, separated and widowed people had worsened from 1972 to 2003, while the health of married men remained stable and the health of married women actually improved.

For more divorce research findings, click through our top 11 studies of 2011:

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