How Many elder orphans are there?

Opinions vary widely on how many elder orphans there are in our population but it seems that anywhere from 15% to 25% of people over the age of 65 either are elder orphans or likely will become one, and the numbers are trending upwards.

It is reported that U.S. Census data from 2012 showed that about one-third of Americans aged 45 to 63 are single, a 50% increase from 1980; nearly 19% of women aged 40 to 44 have no children, as compared to 10% in 1980. Today, one in three Baby Boomers is unmarried.

Several factors are contributing to the rise including historic low marriage rates. A large number of young people lack the economic security to consider marriage and it is reported that 40% of them are still living with their parents. In mid to lower income groups there are fewer desirable partners and a lot of people believe that marriage is obsolete. These and other factors contribute to the inclination to delay marriage and consequently narrow the window to rear a family.

Statistics suggest that half of all marriages result in divorce and it has been this way for the last forty years when no-fault divorce made it a great deal less complicated including elimination of the requirement for a long separation. People who get divorced and remarried are more likely to divorce again and further narrow the window of opportunity to raise children.

Especially among professional women with careers in law, medicine, finance, education and technology, many women are putting advancement in their career ahead if the desire for a family. With a strong financial foundation of income and savings these women may be less willing to sacrifice their lifestyle by compromising on a less than perfect mate.

Thanks to advances in modern medicine we are simply living longer and so providing an increased chance that we may become an elder orphan.

Whatever the number, it is clear that there are a lot of us. Let’s just assume that it is a very low estimate of 10%. With a combined population of Canada (35 million) and the U.S.A. (320 million) that would translate into a population of elder orphans the size of all of Canada or slightly less than the population of California. Unless they are elder orphans, most people would not be aware of any of the issues that confront us.

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