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The Economic Legacy of Divorced and Separated Women in Old Age


  • Lynn McDonald
  • A. Leslie Robb


Although progress has been made over the last 20 years, the burden of a low income in old age is still carried by unattached women. Few researchers, however, have examined exactly where the burden of poverty falls within the category of unattached older women or the nature of this poverty. Like any other group of older Canadians, unattached women are not a homogenous population. The category of "unattached" includes the separated, divorced, widowed and ever single, all of whom face different circumstances in old age because of differences over the life course. Using SLID data we examine income and sources of income from 1993 to 1999 to identify differences among these groups. The findings indicate that the separated and divorced are the poorest of all older unattached women in Canada. A key source of the difference is the growth in private pension incomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Lynn McDonald & A. Leslie Robb, 2003. "The Economic Legacy of Divorced and Separated Women in Old Age," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 104, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:sedapp:104

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steven G. Prus, 1999. "Income Inequality as a Canadian Cohort Ages: An Analysis of the Later Life Course," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 10, McMaster University.
    2. Rebecca Smith & Lonnie Magee & Leslie Robb & John Burbidge, 1997. "The Independence and Economic Security of Older Women Living Alone," Independence and Economic Security of the Older Population Research Papers 22, McMaster University.
    3. Lynn McDonald & Peter Donahue & Brooke Moore, 1997. "Widowhood and Retirement: Women on the Margin," Independence and Economic Security of the Older Population Research Papers 17, McMaster University.
    4. Myles, John, 2000. "The Maturation of Canada's Retirement Income System: Income Levels, Income Inequality and Low Income Among the Elderly," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2000147e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
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    More about this item


    low income; old age; unattached women; SLID;

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination


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