Divorce and the wellbeing of older Australians

Matthew C Gray, David De Vaus, David Stanton, Lixia Qu

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    ABSTRACTIn virtually all Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries the number of older people who have experienced divorce at some point in their lives will increase in coming decades. While there is an extensive literature that analyses the effects of divorce on wellbeing, there is relatively little research on the long-run effects of divorce in later life. This paper uses Australian data to estimate the long-run impacts of divorce on the wellbeing of older Australians. Dimensions of wellbeing examined are social interaction and connectedness, perceived social support, life satisfaction, and physical and mental health. The paper shows that divorce has a long-lasting, negative impact on wellbeing that persists into later life for both men and women. However, the negative effects of divorce on wellbeing are largely confined to those who do not re-partner. An important difference between men and women is that for women who are divorced and remain single, the negative effects of divorce are found for general health, vitality and mental health. Furthermore, these effects are reasonably large. For older men, there appear to be no long-term effects of divorce on physical or mental health. While there appears to be some effect of divorce on perceived social support for both older men and women, the effects of divorce on social support are less pervasive in later life than the effects of divorce on satisfaction with life and, for women, health.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)475-498
    JournalAgeing and Society
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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