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The Economic Well-Being of Older Women Who Become Divorced or Separated in Mid- or Later Life*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 March 2010

Sharon Davies*
McMaster University
Margaret Denton
McMaster University
Requests for offprints should be sent to: / Les demandes de tirés-a-part doivent être adressées à : Sharon Davies (née Webb), Research Associate, McMaster Centre for Gerontological Studies, McMaster University, Kenneth Taylor Hall, Room 226, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ONL8S 4M4


This paper examines the economic well-being of women who become divorced or separated in mid- or later life, using 1994 data from Statistics Canada's Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics. Economic well-being is measured by adjusted economic family total money income, before-tax low-income cut-offs, and ownership of dwelling. Women and men aged 65 and over still in their first marriages are compared with women and men, aged 65 and over, who were divorced or separated at age 45 or older. Results show that women who become divorced or separated in mid- or later life are more likely to have low income than married persons and men who become divorced or separated in mid- or later life. Persons who divorce or separate in mid- or later life are less likely than married persons to live in a dwelling that is owned by a member of the household. Regression analyses show that receiving pension income and receiving earnings are positively associated with income for women who become divorced or separated in mid- or later life. Implications for the Canadian legal and retirement income systems are discussed.


Cette recherche examine le bien-être économique des femmes qui subissent un divorce ou une séparation durant leur moyen âge ou plus tard. L'étude consulte les données de l'Enquête sur la dynamique du travail et du revenu de Statistique Canada. Le bien-être économique est mesuré par le revenu total économique ajusté d'une famille, les seuils de faible revenu avant l'impôt et la propriété de l'unité résidentielle. Les hommes et les femmes âgées de 65 ans et plus et à leur mariage initial sont comparés aux hommes et aux femmes âgés de 65 ans et plus et divorcés ou séparés après leur quarante-cinquième année ou plus. Les résultas démontrent que les femmes qui vivent un divorce ou une séparation durant leur moyen âge ou plus tard ont une meilleure possibilité de recevoir un faible revenu que les personnes mariées et les hommes divorcés ou séparés durant leur moyen âge ou plus tard. Les personnes divorcées ou séparées durant leur moyen âge ou plus tard ont la possibilité moins élevée de demeurer dans une unité résidentielle appartenant à un membre de l'unité ménagère que les personnes mariées. Les analyses de régression démontrent que percevoir un revenu de pension et recevoir des gains sont catégoriquement associés aux revenus des femmes divorcées ou séparées durant leur moyen âge ou plus tard. L'étude examine les effets sur les systèmes canadiens légaux et de revenu de retraite.

Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2002

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The authors would like to thank Carolyn Rosenthal and Isik Urla Zeytinoglu for their helpful comments and Lynda Hayward for advice on data analysis.


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