Never Married and Childless Childfree Older Canadians: Implications for Social Support

Margaret J. Penning, University of Victoria
Zheng Wu, University of Victoria

Despite projected increases in the proportion of never-married and childless/childfree older adults in coming years, little is known regarding its implications for access to social support in later life. Using data from the 2007 General Social Survey (GSS-21) conducted by Statistics Canada, this study examined the joint implications of marital and parental status on the receipt of social support among adults aged 60 and over (N = 11,503). Two-stage probit regression models indicated that being never married and childless/childfree was associated with a greater likelihood of receiving instrumental but not emotional support from people outside the household. These findings suggest that being never married and childless/childfree is not uniformly positive, neutral, or negative in terms of its implications for social support. Future theoretical and empirical work will need to address the complexities of these relationships in order to enhance our understanding of these increasingly prevalent family structures.

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Presented in Session 24: Aging and Family Change