65 and older and Remarriage
Of those aged 65 to 74 in 2003, 63 percent were living with a spouse and 23 percent were living alone. As age increases, so does the proportion living alone. Among those aged 85 and older, 27 percent lived with their spouse, while 48 percent lived alone. Older men are more likely to be living in a family than older women.

Although men and women follow similar marriage patterns during the early and middle ages, their marital patterns diverge as age increases. In 2003, 41.1 percent of women aged 65 and older were married, compared with 71.2 percent of men in the same age group. Among those 75 and older, men were more than twice as likely as women to be married (67.2 percent and 28.7 percent, respectively).

Much of this difference can be attributed to the different widowhood rates of men and women; at ages 65 and older, women were 3 times as likely as men to be widowed (44.3 percent and 14.3 percent, respectively). At age 75 and older, the corresponding figures are 59.2 percent and 21.6 percent, respectively.

This gap has been narrowing due to improved life expectancy. There are three factors in play here. One is lower life expectancy for men. The second is that women tend to marry older men and the third is remarriage.

Population living alone

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Men historically have higher rates of remarriage after widowhood than women. In 1990, 2 per 1,000 widowed women aged 65 and older remarried, compared with 14 per 1,000 widowed men. Therefore, on average, women spend more of their later years as widows.

Divorce continues to be relatively infrequent among the older population. The estimated number of divorces among people aged 65 and
older in 1990 was about 10,000 for men and 5,000 for women, and the annual divorce rate during the 1970-to-1990 period remained
constant at about 2 per 1,000 married older people

In 2003, 7.0 percent of older men and 8.6 percent of older women were divorced and had not remarried. For divorced women, the probability of remarriage after age 45 is less than 5 percent

In 1990, 30 of 1,000 divorced women aged 45 to 64 remarried during the year, a decrease from 45 per 1,000 in 1960. A comparable proportionate decline is seen for remarriage among women aged 65 and older; 4 per 1,000 divorced older women remarried during 1990, compared with 9 per 1,000 in 1960. Divorced men, on the other hand, were more likely to remarry, although they also experienced declines in remarriage rates.

In 1990, 67 per 1,000 divorced men aged 45 to 64 remarried, a decrease from 97 per 1,000 in 1960. In 1990, 19 per 1,000 divorced
men aged 65 and older remarried, compared with 30 per 1,000 in 1960

Source: 65+ in the United States: 2005 National Institute on Aging (NIA), a component of the National Institutes of Health

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