Changes in the household structure of the Finnish elderly by age, sex and educational attainment in 1987–2035

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Title: Changes in the household structure of the Finnish elderly by age, sex and educational attainment in 1987–2035
Author: Martikainen, P; Murphy, M; Moustgaard, H; Mikkonen, J
Belongs to series: Working papers 88
ISSN: 2323-9239
Abstract: While the growth of the elderly population is both inevitable and predictable, the experience of old age is changing rapidly. Changes in living arrangements and family forms as well as cohorts’ changing experiences of socioeconomic environments over the life-course will shape the experience of old age and have a substantial impact on the well-being, health and care needs of the elderly population. According to the latest population projections by Statistics Finland, the number of older Finns (65 and older) and old-age dependency ratio are likely to increase particularly rapidly in the next 20 years or so. However, little is known about the future prospects of living arrangements of older Finns. We use an 11% longitudinal sample of Finns aged 40 years and older drawn from population registration data to evaluate changes in living arrangements of 65+ Finnish men and women from 1987 to 2011 and project living arrangements to 2035 by educational level. We estimate proportions in various living arrangements and calculate multistate life table estimates of years lived in particular states. Projections are based on dynamic transition probability forecasts in LIPRO with constant and variable rates. We show that living alone at older ages is currently more common among women than men: about 40% and 60% of women aged 65–79 and 80+ respectively, and about 20–30% of corresponding men live alone. These proportions are likely to start to decline slowly among women but increase among men under 80. Other living arrangements are becoming increasingly rare. Because of major changes in the access to further education the number of basic educated older people is declining rapidly. Educational differences in living arrangements are small among women, but among men living with a partner has been more common among the higher educated, although this advantage is decreasing. Of the remaining life expectancy at age 65 in 1987 women could expect to live about 40% with a partner; with the proportion increasing slightly to 2011 and 2035. Among men, these proportions were much higher in 1987 in all educational groups, but have declined slowly among the basic and secondary educated and quite markedly among the tertiary educated. Conversely, the much longer life expectancy of living alone among women as compared to men has narrowed somewhat. Overall, we know that the future elderly population will be better educated than ever before and is more likely to live with a spouse or partner. Future living arrangement distributions of older people are strongly determined, in particular, by past household behavior and, to a lesser extent, future changes in mortality. If life expectancy differences between men and women continue to converge in the long run, the proportion of remaining years of life spent living with a partner will increase among women and living alone will increase among men. However, it remains to be seen whether the better educated and partnered future elderly will benefit from the same social, functioning, health and mortality advantages as the well-educated elderly and partnered of today. In the past 25 years, some of these differences have remained sur-prisingly persistent; for example, despite large distributional changes in these characteristics, the strong health benefits of education and living with a spouse remain. Thus, if the past is a guide for the future, we may expect to see a better functioning elderly population as a consequence of these demographic changes.
Description: 20 pp.
Date: 2016

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