Does the Timing of Divorce and Widowhood Affect Economic and Emotional Outcomes? The Case of Older Adults in Israel

Alisa C. Lewin , University of Haifa
Haya Stier, Tel Aviv University

This study adopts a life course approach and asks how the timing of divorce and widowhood affects economic and emotional wellbeing later in life. It also asks whether these effects differ by gender. This study focuses on the experiences of Israeli men and women. The Israeli context is interesting because it is characterized by a pro-family orientation reflected in near-universal marriage, high fertility, long and increasing life expectancy, and relatively low, yet rising, divorce rates. We draw on Israel’s Social Surveys from multiple years (2013-2017), conducted by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. The sample is limited to individuals age 50 and older. We compare seven groups, by gender: (1) recently divorced (after age 50); (2) long divorced; (3) recently widowed (after age 50); (4) long widowed; (5) remarried; (6) continuously married; (7) never married. Preliminary findings show that there are substantial differences by marital status. For example, continuously married men and women have the highest odds of homeownership, and recent divorced have the lowest. Continuously married men and women have the lowest odds of being poverty, divorced men and women have higher odds of poverty than widowed men and women. Although the recent widowed experience better financial wellbeing than the divorced, they have higher odds of experiencing loneliness than any of the other groups examined.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course