Not all seniors are married or widowed. Since 1950, more and more people aged over 55 years old are divorced or single.
The marital status of older men and women differs greatly. While most men are married until the end of their lives, women are commonly widowed starting at the age of 80 years old.
Women’s life expectancy is longer as confirmed by the pattern observed in all four countries. Nevertheless, in Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom, one 80-year-old man in four is widowed, while in France it is just one in six.
The Number of Divorced and Single People Increases
The proportion of divorced spouses has increased over the generations, for both men and women. In France, 5% of the people born in 1935 (81-year-old in 2016) divorced at the age of 60 years old, while nowadays, this proportion is three times higher at the same age. Thus, at the age of 60, a third of households are single-person households (Insee, RP 2011).
France holds the highest number of single seniors (people without a spouse or without having formalized his/her relationship). The formalization of relationships has declined earlier than in other countries: decrease in the marriage rate in France from the late 1950s (Insee, statistiques de l’état civil 2010).
The Midlife Crisis Phenomenon
The number of divorces has increased at the same rate as life expectancy. Once retired, couples sometimes have trouble living together again and thus prefer splitting up. Some remain single while some others start a new relationship. This is known as the Midlife Crisis phenomenon. This existential crisis does not necessarily take place in their forties. Some people feel the effects once they have retired and find themselves rearranging their everyday lives. For more information regarding Midlife crisis, please refer to our article on the subject.
Find complete information regarding this article by clicking on the following link: Marital status of people aged over 55 by age groups and by gender in France, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Germany
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