The Never-Married in Old Age: Projections and Concerns for the Near Future

by Christopher R. Tamborini
Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 67 No. 2, 2007
Table equivalent for Chart 1. Percentage of persons aged 65 or older below the poverty line, by marital status and sex, 2004
Status Percent by
marital status a
Percent by marital status and sex b
Men Women
All 9.80 7.00 12.00
Married 4.50 4.60 4.40
Never-married 21.90 22.60 21.30
Divorced 17.30 12.00 20.70
Widowed 14.50 10.90 15.40
SOURCE: Author's calculations using data from Social Security Administration (2006b, Table 8.1). Data are based on the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, March Supplement.
NOTES: Poverty rates are based on total income of the family—sum of total money income of all persons related by blood, marriage, or adoption and residing together—compared with official poverty thresholds of elderly families in 2004. Total money income includes all income regularly received by the family before any deductions, including wages, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, public assistance, interest, dividends, rent, royalties, and veterans' payments. Calculations do not include nonmoney income transfers, such as food stamps, health benefits, or subsidized housing. Income refers to receipts for calendar year 2004, whereas marital status refers to the date of the survey.
Persons who are separated or married but living apart are included in "All" but are not shown separately.
a. Population totals (in thousands) are 35,213 (All), 19,278 (Married), 1,460 (Never-married), 2,777 (Divorced), and 10,682 (Widowed).
b. Population totals (in thousands) for men are 15,151 (All), 10,858 (Married), 670 (Never-married), 1,070 (Divorced), and 2,069 (Widowed). For women, the totals are 20,063 (All), 8,420 (Married), 790 (Never-married), 1,707 (Divorced), and 8,613 (Widowed).
Table equivalent for Chart 2. Poverty rates of persons aged 65 or older, by marital status, 1970–2004
Year All Never-married Divorced Widowed Married a
1970 24.43 29.23 32.53 34.72 15.50
1975 15.47 22.83 23.95 22.80 8.50
1980 15.76 21.40 27.20 24.13 8.30
1985 12.74 20.50 20.60 20.30 5.80
1990 12.15 18.10 21.20 20.00 5.10
1995 10.48 25.90 15.40 17.40 3.80
2000 10.19 25.60 16.70 15.90 4.50
2004 9.81 21.90 17.30 14.50 4.50
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, March Supplement (1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2005).
a. Does not include persons who are married but living apart from their spouse.
Table equivalent for Chart 3. Projected distribution of retirement-age persons (aged 62 or older), by marital status, 2020–2060
Year Never-married Divorced Widowed Married
2020 5.20 15.60 19.50 59.80
2030 6.60 16.60 21.10 55.70
2040 8.10 16.40 23.40 52.10
2050 9.40 16.10 24.80 49.70
2060 10.40 15.90 23.60 49.90
SOURCE: Author's calculations using data from Modeling Income in the Near Term (MINT).