Trajectories after widowhood. Life-course pathways of widows and widowers in the Netherlands, 1873-1934

Ewout Depauw, Ghent University
Mariska Meints, University of Groningen
Adriana Santacroce, Sapienza Università di Roma

Until the second half of the twentieth century, many husbands and wives lost their spouses early in their lives. After spousal loss, alternative strategies for survival and well-being had to be pursued by the left behind, but it is still unclear how the life courses of the widowed were affected by their loss. Due to the prevalent gender roles, widows would have had troubles maintaining an income, while widowers with families were in need of a care-taker. The Netherlands form an interesting case to research the life courses of the widowed due to the great variety in terms of religions, family systems and inheritance system. The aim of this paper is to analyse the life courses for widowers and widows that lost their spouse between 1873 and 1934 in the Netherlands. Data used come from the Historical Sample of the Netherlands (HSN). We derived 1749 widow(er)s and followed their events up to five years after spousal loss. After a descriptive analysis to deepen the phenomenon itself, a discrete time event history analysis was performed to evaluate better the occurrence of a) remarriage and b) migration as failure event. Preliminary results show that migration was most common among widows. Remarriage instead was more common among widowers.

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Presented in Session 91: After divorce and widowhood