A new study has indicated that spinsters over 60 are happier and healthier than their male counterparts. The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, looked at the growing social and health implications of people living alone.
The study found that the senior singletons rated their lives as more healthy when they were not living with a husband, but the reverse is true of men.
AdvertisementAccording to the researchers, one reason for this feeling of health and happiness is that the women are relieved to be free of having to provide 24-hour care for elderly husbands more likely to be in poorer health than they are.
They might also not miss the physical closeness of a sexual relationship as much as men the same age, they added.
According to the 2001 census, the number of people over 60 is far more than that of children, and there has been an increase in older men and women living without a spouse and a decline in those living with children or relatives.
The study found that men living with a relative or friend were less likely to be happy or satisfied with life than those living with a wife. In most regions of Europe older unmarried women were happier and satisfied living with friends and family than alone.
In England, older women rated their health better if they lived alone rather than with a husband. However, men and women living alone had a higher mortality risk than those with a spouse.
The study was carried out by Harriet Young and Prof Emily Grundy at the Centre for Population Studies at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
"These findings have important policy implications for whether long-term care services for older people living alone should be prioritised, or if services should be directed at unpaid family carers," the Telegraph quoted Prof Grundy, as saying.
"The research also highlights differences within Europe. Older people in Scandinavia were happier than in other regions of Europe. In Scandinavia there are generous welfare systems.
In England and Wales older women living alone reported better self-rated health than married women of the same age, even though the married had lower death rates over the next three years.
"One reason might be that some of the married older women may have caring responsibilities for their spouses, which might affect their self-rated health," she added.
Commenting upon men, she said, "Those living with relatives other than their wife will in many cases be doing so because of health problems which would raise the chance of being depressed or unhappy."
The study was based on findings from the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study on England and Wales, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing on England, and the European Social Survey with data from 19 European Countries.