Measures of widowhood in contemporary China

Quanbao Jiang, Institute for Population and Development Studies, Xi'an Jiaotong University
Shuzhuo Li, Xi'an Jiaotong University

China has entered into an aging society in recent years, with the proportion of people aged 60 and over exceeding 10 percent in 2000. Among the elderly people, the proportion of widows to female elderly people is about 41.68 percent, while that for widowers only accounts for 18.45 percent, which implies great gender differences in measures of widowhood and related indexes. Using formulas which measure widowhood as a function of life table survivorship (Goldman and Lord’s method) and age at marriage from a life cycle perspective and the 2000 census data on mortality and marriage, this paper aims to explore the effects of gender differences in age at marriage, age gaps between spouses, mortality rates and life expectancies on the life cycle measures of widowhood. The following results are obtained: The possibility of a woman outliving her spouse accounts for 63.2 percent, with a mean age at widowhood of 66.9 years old and a mean duration of widowhood of 16.5 years, while the indicators for males are 36.8 percent, 68.0 years old and 13.5 years. The average duration of marriage is 42.2 years. Rural and urban people have different possibilities, mean ages at and mean duration of widowhood due to different mortality rates and spousal age gaps. The changes of age at marriage holding age difference between spouses constant exert little effect on the possibility of women outliving the spouse. With age at marriage varies from 21 to 31 for grooms and 19 to 29 for brides, the possibility changes from 63.2 to 63.3 percent. The spousal age gap has significant impact on the possibility. When age at marriage for grooms rises from 20 to 40 holding that for brides unchanged at 23, the possibility of women outliving men increases from 48.5 to 92.4 percent.

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Presented in Poster Session 1