Differential Exposure to the Strains of Being Single in Late-Life

Tetyana Pudrovska, University of Wisconsin
Scott Schieman, University of Toronto

This study examines differential exposure to the strains of singlehood ("single strain") among widowed, divorced, and never-married elders. Using data from a sub-sample of 532 nonmarried adults 65 years and older, OLS regression techniques were applied to estimate the social distribution of single strain aswell as interactive effects of sociodemographic characteristics and the duration in nonmarried status. Results indicate that the never-married report lower levels of single strain than the widowed, whereas the divorced are not different from the widowed. Length in nonmarried status is related negatively to single strain, suggesting that the strains of marital dissolution may attenuate over time. Gender, SES, and time since marital disruption moderate the association between nonmarried status and single strain, while race does not. We integrate our findings into the broader literature on marital status differences in well-being, with a special focus on desolation theory and a crisis model of marital dissolution.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Fertility, Family Planning, Unions, and Sexual Behavior