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Pathways into living alone in mid-life: diversity and policy implications

Pathways into living alone in mid-life: diversity and policy implications
Pathways into living alone in mid-life: diversity and policy implications
This paper adopts a life course approach to investigate the pathways into living alone in mid-life in Britain and how these vary by gender and socio-economic status. The rise in the proportion of people living alone over the past three decades has been well documented. However, much of the focus of the existing literature has been on either people living solo in young adulthood or in later life. Mid-life has received surprising little scholarly attention, despite the fact that living arrangements in mid-life are changing rapidly, and that household composition and socio-economic circumstances in the period immediately prior to retirement are strongly associated with living arrangements and associated sources of support in later life. This paper therefore aims to fill this gap. We begin with a review of previous research on living alone and present a conceptual framework of the pathways into living alone in mid-life. Data from the United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Survey (UKHLS) are used to analyse the partnership and parenthood histories and socio-economic characteristics of those currently living alone in mid-life. The findings indicate that the dissolution of a marriage with children is the dominant pathway into mid-life solo-living, but that there is also a substantial group of never partnered men living alone. These never partnered men are split between those with low and high socio-economic status. Distinguishing between different groups of individuals living alone in mid-life is important for policy as these groups of men and women will have different social and financial resources as they enter later life. Mid-life men living alone who have not had children, have no educational qualifications, are not economically active and who live in rented housing are likely to be most at risk of needing a social and economic ‘safety net’ in old age.
living alone, mid-life, pathways, policy implications, baby-boom cohort, partnership trajectory
1879-6974
161-174
Demey, Dieter
98bdaac3-ab8d-4985-b3e7-8b4824a4d867
Berrington, Ann
bd0fc093-310d-4236-8126-ca0c7eb9ddde
Evandrou, Maria
cd2210ea-9625-44d7-b0f4-fc0721a25d28
Falkingham, Jane
8df36615-1547-4a6d-ad55-aa9496e85519
Demey, Dieter
98bdaac3-ab8d-4985-b3e7-8b4824a4d867
Berrington, Ann
bd0fc093-310d-4236-8126-ca0c7eb9ddde
Evandrou, Maria
cd2210ea-9625-44d7-b0f4-fc0721a25d28
Falkingham, Jane
8df36615-1547-4a6d-ad55-aa9496e85519

Demey, Dieter, Berrington, Ann, Evandrou, Maria and Falkingham, Jane (2013) Pathways into living alone in mid-life: diversity and policy implications. Advances in Life Course Research, 18 (3), 161-174. (doi:10.1016/j.alcr.2013.02.001).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This paper adopts a life course approach to investigate the pathways into living alone in mid-life in Britain and how these vary by gender and socio-economic status. The rise in the proportion of people living alone over the past three decades has been well documented. However, much of the focus of the existing literature has been on either people living solo in young adulthood or in later life. Mid-life has received surprising little scholarly attention, despite the fact that living arrangements in mid-life are changing rapidly, and that household composition and socio-economic circumstances in the period immediately prior to retirement are strongly associated with living arrangements and associated sources of support in later life. This paper therefore aims to fill this gap. We begin with a review of previous research on living alone and present a conceptual framework of the pathways into living alone in mid-life. Data from the United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Survey (UKHLS) are used to analyse the partnership and parenthood histories and socio-economic characteristics of those currently living alone in mid-life. The findings indicate that the dissolution of a marriage with children is the dominant pathway into mid-life solo-living, but that there is also a substantial group of never partnered men living alone. These never partnered men are split between those with low and high socio-economic status. Distinguishing between different groups of individuals living alone in mid-life is important for policy as these groups of men and women will have different social and financial resources as they enter later life. Mid-life men living alone who have not had children, have no educational qualifications, are not economically active and who live in rented housing are likely to be most at risk of needing a social and economic ‘safety net’ in old age.

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Published date: September 2013
Keywords: living alone, mid-life, pathways, policy implications, baby-boom cohort, partnership trajectory
Organisations: Social Sciences

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 349404
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/349404
ISSN: 1879-6974
PURE UUID: 4744e062-7724-41d2-ab23-f4773afac49e
ORCID for Ann Berrington: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1683-6668
ORCID for Maria Evandrou: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-2115-9358
ORCID for Jane Falkingham: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-7135-5875

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 04 Mar 2013 11:37
Last modified: 21 Nov 2021 02:57

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Contributors

Author: Dieter Demey
Author: Ann Berrington ORCID iD
Author: Maria Evandrou ORCID iD
Author: Jane Falkingham ORCID iD

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