HOW OLD IS THE AVERAGE WIDOW OR WIDOWER?

There are some statistics floating around the Internet that the average age of a widow is 55 (I was widowed at 54.) I just can't believe that number, and certainly have not met many young widows. Most are decades older than I. (I am not connected to the military, where there are probably many more women who lost their spouses at an early age.)

Was I simply oblivious to the losses that surrounded me? I don't think so.

According to a report cited in a Social Security Administration (SSA) working paper, in 1998:

  • There were 11 million widows in the United States, 1.5 million of whom were close to age 60 (55 to 64 years old). That means 13.6% of widows are age 55 to 64.
    • (Note: One SSA report from 2010 notes that 41 percent of women 65 or older are widowed - this should not be construed to mean that 41 percent of women over 65 are widowed!)
  • There were only 1.5 million widowers, with 275,000 between the ages of 55 and 64 - which equates to 18.3%.
  • (Source: Lugaila, Terry A. “Marital Status and Living Arrangements: March 1998 (Update).” CPS Report P20-514.)

Obviously there are a lot more widows than there are widowers. In my age group, more than 5 times as many. Overall, almost 10 times as many.

In terms of statistics (U.S. Census Bureau 2008):

  • Single Men 45-54: 30% - 1.1% are widowed | Women: 31%, widowed 3.3%
  • Single Men 55-64: 24% - 2.5% are widowed | Women: 34%, widowed 8.5%

So clearly widows and widowers under the age of 64 are in the minority, as you would expect.

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