Research Finds Baby Boomers Face Difficulties At Older Age
April 17, 2012

Research Finds Baby Boomers Face Difficulties At Older Age

Connie K. Ho for

Shocking new statistics from Bowling Green State University´s National Center for Family and Marriage Research (NCFMR) shows that baby boomers will have a difficult time as they grow older.

The study combines data from the censuses of 1980, 1990, 2000 as well as the 2009 American Community Survey. Through this research, Dr. I-Fen Lin found that one-third of adults between the ages of 45 and 63 are unmarried. This number has more than doubled since 1980, when about 20 percent of middle aged Americans were not married.

"The shift in marital composition of the middle-aged suggests that researchers and policymakers can no longer focus on widowhood in later life and should pay attention to the vulnerabilities of the never-married and divorced as well," remarked Lin, an associate professor of sociology at Bowling Green State University, in a prepared statement.

Dr. Susan Brown, a professor of sociology and co-director of the NCFMR, also determined that one in five single baby boomers lives in poverty compared to one in 20 to their married counterparts. Single baby boomers are less likely to have health insurance and twice more likely to be disabled. Furthermore, baby boomers that are divorced have more economic resources than baby boomers that are widowed or never married.

An important concern for the researchers is the fact that baby boomers rarely marry for the first time during their middle ages and so are more likely to remain unmarried indefinitely.

"The economic and health vulnerabilities of single boomers are concerning because boomers are now moving into old age when failing health becomes even more common and severe," commented Brown in the statement. "In the past, family members, particularly spouses, have provided care to infirm older adults. A growing share of older adults isn´t going to have a spouse available to rely on for support. Our figures indicate one in three boomers won't have a spouse who can care for them. And, unmarrieds are less likely to have children who might provide care. These shifting family patterns portend new strains on existing institutional supports for the elderly. As more singles enter older adulthood, we as a society may have to reconsider how we care for frail elders. The family may no longer be a viable option for an increasing segment of older adults."