Health and well-being of older women living alone in British households: selected findings from the British Household Panel Survey

Publication type

Conference Paper


2017 Applied Demography Conference, 11-13 January 2017, San Antonio, Texas


Publication date

January 12, 2017


Whilst there has been a growth in the British Households of women living alone as they move into later life, there are few written studies about the specific characteristics of this unique group of women. Although past studies highlight various scenarios of older women with different relationship status and situations, less is known about the life cycle trajectories of women living alone as they grow older in post-modern UK society. This paper reports on the findings of our examination of some of the factors associated with health and well-being of
women living alone in later life arising from secondary analysis of data collected by the British Household Panel Survey 'Understanding Society' 2012. This is a nationwide longitudinal survey that captures important information on the life course trajectories of individuals and seeks to examine and document societal trends. Building on a review of the literature on women living alone in later life, we have focused on analysis of selected variables as measured in the survey to help understand some of the trends for older women living alone and the associated
variables that illustrate the potential different experiences of this group. By looking at variables associated with health and wellbeing such as education, long-standing illness, satisfaction with health and health status; we have identified important determinants when looking at women living alone. Within the increasing trend of single women over time and space, there is a need to adapt and develop more accurate measures and research designs in order to investigate the specific nature of ageing for those who are living alone. We conclude with a discussion about some of the different concerns that women living alone may need to balance in later life and the importance of comparing profiles for different groups of older women in order to consider the development of research priorities which support inclusive positive ageing.





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