The oldest person in the world, Emma Morano of Italy, credits her longevity to a diet of raw eggs and divorce from her husband. Is there a positive side to divorce?

According to New York’s WPIX 11 T.V., Morano celebrated her 117th birthday on Tuesday and is now the only person alive to have lived through three centuries.

She was born Nov. 29, 1899, in the Piedmont region of Italy, back when King Umberto I reigned. Morano became the world’s oldest living person in May after American Susannah Mushatt Jones died at the age of 116.

When she was a teenager, a doctor suggested that Morano eat raw eggs to combat her anemia. She followed a stringent diet of two raw eggs, one cooked egg, a little minced meat and pasta for the past 90 years. With age, her diet has been cut down to just two eggs a day and some cookies.

The other secret to Morano’s long life: separating from her husband in 1938, decades before divorce was even legal in Italy, she says. Morano’s one true love was killed as a boy during World War I, and she did not intend to marry anyone else, she told Italian media outlet La Stampa in comments confirmed by her niece Antonietta Sala.

But she eventually married after her future husband forced her to do so. “He said, ‘If you’re lucky, you marry me, or I’ll kill you,'” Morano told La Stampa. A year after her 6-month-old child died, she left her husband. “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone,” she told the New York Times.

I’ve written about the positive aspects of divorce in the past. The rise of divorce internationally, for example, has been an indicator of and force behind social changes that have improved prospects for women, reduced gender inequality, and fueled development.

All of which suggests that the more people are able to get out of bad marriages, the better off their societies are likely to be.

So, the more common divorce becomes in a society, the less of a stigma it’s likely to be. Conversely, divorce causes greater unhappiness in societies where it’s rare.

The period before a divorce people report low life satisfaction, but the period after it is comparatively satisfactory, especially for women as Emma proves.

The WPIX 11 story is here.

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