The number of elderly widows who live independently after the loss of their spouses has increased sharply since 1970, according to the Census Bureau update “Martial Status and Living Arrangements.”
Nearly 70% of elderly widows lived alone in 1997, up from 56% in 1970. The number of widows over 65 years of age decreased by 8.1% since 1970. The explanation given for this change was that men began living longer and more couples divorced. Over 7% of elderly women are divorced, up from 2.3% in 1970. The share of elderly women still living with their husbands has increased from 34 to 40 percent.