The long-term consequences of partnership dissolution for support in later life in the United Kingdom
There has long been an interest in the United Kingdom about whether and how changes in family life affect support for older people, but nevertheless the consequences of partnership dissolution for late-life support have been little researched. Using data from the British Household Panel Study (1991-2003), this study investigated the longitudinal association between partnership dissolution and two types of support for 1,966 people aged 70 or more years: (i) informal support from children in the form of contacts and help (e.g. household assistance including care), and (ii) formal support from community care services (i.e. health visitor or district nurse, home-help and meals-on-wheels). The paper also examines the level of reported support among: (i) all parents aged 70 or more years and (ii) 1,453 unpartnered parents in the same age group (i.e. those lacking the most important source of support in later life: a spouse). We found diversity in the experience of partnership dissolution in the past lives of people aged 70 or more years. Patterns of support varied by the respondent's age, whether partnered, the timing and type of partnership dissolution, and by gender, having a daughter and health status. Overall, however, partnership dissolution did not show the expected detrimental relationship with later-life support. Health needs and increasing age were strongly associated with increases in contact and informal and formal help, regardless of family history.
Ageing and Society
not held in Res Lib - bibliographic reference only