The widowed population in Spain during the 20th Century: relative and absolute changes and its demographic causes

Jeroen J.A. Spijker, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Background: While the study of family trajectories after divorce has recently received a broader interest in Spanish sociology, there have been few studies on the determinants and characteristics of different types of family trajectories after marriage dissolution following bereavement. Even internationally, the study of remarriage after bereavement is not extensively covered, although as more flexible living arrangements such as “Living Apart Together” have taken place in industrialised countries following bereavement, it has provided the subject with new impetus. Objectives: Before studying family trajectories after spouse-loss, however, it was considered both practical and informative to first analyse the evolution of the widowed population during the course of the previous century. More specifically, the aim of the conference poster is not only to show how the widowed population changed in absolute and relative numbers over the course of the 20th Century (and its age- and sex-composition), but also to analyse the demographic factors that caused these changes. Data and proposed analyses: The following age- and sex-specific analyses are considered: 1. Using census data the changing composition of the widowed population and its relative importance in the total population. 2. With Spanish vital statistics data (MNP) a description will be made of the changing flows of the widowed population, which include: • Marriage dissolutions due to widowhood; • Mortality among widows; • Remarriage among widows; and • Migration of widows. 3. Increase in the age at first marriage (MNP). 4. The impact of divorce (MNP). 5. Life expectancy of the married and widowed (MNP and Census). Tentative conclusions: Life expectancy increase during the past century has also increased the mean age of the widowed population. Widowhood is therefore today mainly an old-age phenomenon. Moreover, as women live longer and tend to marry with older men, it makes widowhood especially a female event.

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Presented in Poster Session 2