Unmarried Boomers Confront Old Age: A National Portrait
by I-Fen Lin and Susan L. Brown, Ph.D.
The Gerontologist (2012) 52 (2):153-165
“The proportion of midlife Americans (aged 45–63) that are unmarried has increased by more than 50% since 1980. Today, one in three Baby Boomers is unmarried. The vast majority of these unmarried Boomers are either divorced or never-married; just 10% are widowed. As Boomers move into older adulthood, the unmarried share will grow as married Boomers continue to experience divorce and widowhood.
The marital status of unmarried Boomers matters. In general, divorced Boomers have more economic resources and better health than widowed and never-married Boomers. Among women, widows appear to be the most disadvantaged as they enjoy fewer economic resources and have poorer health than divorced and never-married women. In contrast, never-marrieds are the least advantaged among men. Despite having relatively high levels of education, never-married men have poorer economic circumstances and are most likely to live alone. Divorced and widowed men are comparatively advantaged. Thus, both the marital status composition and gender of unmarrieds are critical to deciphering the potential risks or vulnerabilities facing this growing group of Boomers.”
“The rise in unmarrieds at midlife has significant ramifications for old age.”