Far more women than men move out of the house when their partners pass away. This is, according to a study by the University of Copenhagen that looks at the settlement patterns of Danish widows and widowers. According to the researcher, the gender gap indicates the inequality that must be considered when planning housing for the growing proportion of the elderly.
More than 280,000 people in Denmark over the age of 50 are widows or widowers. The loss of a life partner causes turmoil in many ways. One of these several parameters could have something to do with the exit. However, the navigation of accommodation for Danish women and men after the loss of a partner can vary greatly. This is what the University of Copenhagen study found.
“There is a distinct gender gap between widows and widowers when it comes to housing and where one settles – particularly with regard to how much one moves. Widowers and widowers seem to be affected differently by their new living situation,” says Aske Eggsgaard Pedersen, a geographer and former Ph.D. Student in the Department of Earth Sciences and Natural Resources Management at UCPH.
Using registry data, he studied the patterns of housing changes for tens of thousands of Danish widows between the ages of 50 and 90 over a 25-year period.
Women are more mobile
The study shows that widows move around much more than widowers after the death of their partner. While just over 30% of all widows move into new homes after the death of their partner, this applies to only 20% of widows. Meanwhile, a slightly larger proportion of men are moving into residential care homes.
Furthermore, widows are statistically more likely than other women to move for up to four years after the death of their partner, compared to only two years for widows. Likewise, widows are more likely than widowers to move in the years immediately following the death of their partner.
“We haven’t been able to pinpoint the reasons behind the differences we observed. But a good deal of previous research suggests that widows are generally worse off financially than widowers because men typically have higher incomes and larger retirement savings. Therefore, one reason may be that widows They experience a greater – and longer term – deterioration in their financial situation than widows, which makes it necessary for them to move to something cheaper,” says Aske Eggsgaard-Pedersen.
But at the same time, he adds, many studies suggest that women often have stronger social networks than men and therefore experience greater emotional support in a situation. This may make them less “afraid” than men of moving into a residential setting, in fact. , may be more appropriate. Therefore, this may be part of the explanation for the gender difference in statistics.”
less square metres
The study also shows that both men and women shrink after transitioning into widowhood. As the widows reduce the size of their dwellings by 9m2 On average, widows reduce their living space by 12 square metres2.
“It is not surprising that both sexes move into smaller residences. But here, too, there is a statistical difference between the sexes in how small their home is. Again, it is normal to point to personal finances as a possible cause,” the researcher said.
Better housing alternatives for the elderly
Aske Egsgaard-Pedersen points out that there is a need for qualitative research into the reasons behind this.
“Even in a Scandinavian country where gender equality is a big problem, there is still a way to go before there are equal opportunities for men and women when they lose their partners. Here, we must take a closer look at what can be done to support men and women over both during a difficult phase of their lives and coming to terms with the fact that not all widows and widowers are the same, and they have the same behaviors or needs,” says Aske Eggsgaard Pedersen.
Geographer and Associate Professor Høgni Kalsø Hansen of the Department of Earth Sciences and Natural Resources Management agrees.
It is believed that more knowledge about the reasons for the migration of widows and widows and what prevents them from this can benefit both individuals and society:
“The numbers from this study also show that the majority of widows and widowers stay home – that goes for 70% of women and 80% of men. Of course, that’s fine if that’s what they want. But if a lot of them are – maybe men specifically. Particularly – they actually stay because they face social challenges, something needs to be done to create attractive alternatives for them, says Høgni Kalsø Hansen.
“This issue can be considered in relation to housing and urban planning by, for example, planning smaller homes that are economically and socially attractive – and where they have an active life and networks to participate in. At the same time, this will release housing stock into the market. From the continued construction of new buildings, we can make better use of the existing housing stock.”
The results of the study have been published in the journal housing studies.
Aske Egsgaard, Home after widowhood: a longitudinal study of housing mobility and housing preferences after the death of a partner, Available here. housing studies (2022). doi: 10.1080/02673037.2022.2135169
the quoteStudy (2023, April 17) More Women Go Out Than Men After Widowhood, Retrieved April 17, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-women-men-widowhood.html
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