Older people who still live at home in communities in Scandinavian welfare states are either married or living alone, with the latter group reporting more of a sense of loneliness. Two marriages out of three end in the death of the husband, and if marital status is excluded from the equation, most of the differences in loneliness between the genders disappear. Yet, in the 80+ age group, (the few) men who live alone report a higher frequency of loneliness than women in the same category. At that age, most men are still married, but most women are living alone. These patterns are even more pronounced in the 90+ age group.
We interpret the results as the outcome of selection mechanisms and that they may reflect malefemale differences in marital adaptation. Those men who survive and live alone are more often from a working-class background and in poor health, while women who live alone are socially and health- wise a more heterogeneous group. There may also be a difference in marital background, colouring the way men and women see their situation: men more often have had their wives as their only confidant, whereas women have a wider social network and may even see their new solitary life as a relief.
Read more about Professor Bo Malmberg’s research: www.hhj.hj.se/doc/5141
Read more about Professor Gerdt Sundström’s research: www.hhj.hj.se/doc/5142
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