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Repartnering after widowhood

TitleRepartnering after widowhood
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsWu, Z., Schimmele C. M., and Ouellet N.
JournalJournal of Gerontology: Social Sciences
Pages496 - 507
Keywordsdemography, marriage, widowhood

Objectives. This study estimates the sex-specific prevalence of repartnering after widowhood. The main objective is to examine the competing choice between nonmarital cohabitation and remarriage as well as repartnering differentials. Methods. The study uses data from the 2007 Canadian General Social Survey and life table methods to illustrate gender and regional differences in the cumulative proportion of people aged 45 and older who repartner after widowhood. Proportional hazard models are used to examine how factors such as socioeconomic resources, region, demographic characteristics, and health associate with the risk of repartnering and repartnering preferences. Results. Most repartnering after widowhood occurs within ten years of this event or not at all. Ten years after widowhood, about 7% of widows and 29% of widowers have formed a new union. For both widows and widowers, the rate of remarriage is twice as high as the rate of cohabitation. The exception to this is the province of Quebec, where cohabitation is a more prevalent choice of repartnering than remarriage. There is a weak association between socioeconomic resources and both the risk of cohabitation and remarriage. Discussion. Our results confirm that constraints in marriage markets appear to contribute to a gender gap in the prevalence of repartnering after widowhood. Though the widowed prefer remarriage over cohabitation as a repartnering choice, there are important regional differences in repartnering that reflect cultural norms in the social acceptance of cohabitation. Socioeconomic disincentives to marriage do not appear to push the widowed into cohabitation.

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