It’s family, not friends, who may help you live longer, study says

The company you keep has long been thought to be an important factor in both mental and physical well-being. Numerous studies have documented how the quantity and quality of social relationships have effects that emerge in childhood and, as sociologists Debra Umberson and Jennifer Karas Montez put it in a 2010 paper, “cascade throughout life to foster cumulative advantage or disadvantage in health.”

But what kind of relationships help the most?

One recent study in Britain found that “joiners” who were part of a sports club, religious organization, trade union or any other kind of leisure or professional group had a lower risk of death in the first six years of retirement. Another, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, found that having a big social network was more important than high-quality relationships for those in adolescence and old age, while quality matters more for adults in their 30s to 50s.