Stability and Change in the Family Structure of the Elderly

Judit Monostori, Hungarian Demographic Research Institute

In the presentation I analyze the different living arrangements in later life. These were most frequently investigated cross-sectionally in previous studies, however this examination uses not only cross-sectional, but also longitudinal data. Using the Hungarian GGS I look at the changes of household structure over a 11-year period, from 2001 to 2012. Although there are fewer life events in old age than in the younger stages of the life cycle; this age also brings changes partly as a result of life events of the elderly and their offspring. Half of the individuals experienced some form of change in their family structure.The vast majority of changes in family structure were related to the loss or move of a family member and there were very few cases when the household expanded during the observed period. We demonstrate the rising rate of living alone among the older population, one of the most common trends noted by the literature. The presentation also reveals that the share of divorced people is rising, while the share of widowed ones is decreasing among the one person households. Therefore divorce is a more and more important reason for living alone in later life. Using the panel data, some transition matrices are constructed.These matrices indicate that the probabilities of change in household structure are varying for the different living arrangements. Living alone is the most stable household type: among the ones who lived by themselves in 2001, 88% remained living alone by 2012 as well.The other categories, however, show a lower level of stability. The other important change in the pattern of living arrangements among the elderly is the increasing proportion of the elderly living as a lone parent. This is the effect of post-adolescence of younger generations and also the fragility of the partnership of young adults.

Presented in Poster Session 3