There’s More than Meets the Eye – the Multifaceted Picture of Financial Struggles of Older Widows

Sylwia Timoszuk , Warsaw School of Economics
Monika Mynarska, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw

The aim of this paper is to expand our knowledge of the financial situation of older widows. Previous research showed that older women are in general at a relatively high risk of poverty and that being a widow increases this risk even more. Yet, relatively little is known on how severe women’s problems are and which areas of their life are affected. In the study quantitative and qualitative approach is used to examine the situation of older widows in Poland. The Generations and Gender Survey (GGS-PL) shows that most frequently these women are not able to cover expenditures related to buying new furniture, paying for holiday, or buying new clothes. However, the qualitative data showed that these problems were not perceived as the most acute ones. At the same time, the interviews revealed that some serious financial problems might remain hidden in the survey data. For example, the least prevalent problematic expenditure among GGS respondents was the cost of eating meat, or a vegetarian equivalent, every other day. The interviews showed that although many widows did not report the financial inability to buy food, they often reduced the quantity or quality of the purchases products, to the extend it might have been unsafe for their health. The research showed that combining qualitative and quantitative sources allows us to gain much deeper and better understanding of the financial struggles experienced by older widows, making us vigilant to important problems that might have remained overlooked if only survey data is considered.

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 Presented in Session P2. Poster Session Ageing, Health and Mortality