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Family matters: Being separated or divorced and aged 55 or older

Released: 2019-06-12

Canada's population is aging, but Canadians are staying healthy and active much later in life than ever before. While most Canadians aged 55 and older are in a couple relationship, some are also separating, divorcing and starting new relationships later in life.

The General Social Survey (GSS) provides important, detailed information on family experiences. Since February 2019, the Family Matters series has addressed themes related to marital status in Canada. Today's release includes an infographic on being separated or divorced and aged 55 and older.

According to the 2017 GSS, two-thirds of the 11 million Canadians aged 55 and older were in a couple relationship, either married (61%) or living common law (7%). However, 10% of Canadians aged 55 and older were separated or divorced from a marriage, up from 9% in 2006, while 5% were separated from a common-law union, up from 2% in 2006. A further 13% had not repartnered following the death of a spouse or partner, down from 15% in 2006.

The previously wed were married for 19 years on average

Many Canadians aged 55 and older who were previously married had been in a long-term relationship prior to their last separation. According to the 2017 GSS, people in this group were married for 19 years on average. Common-law relationships were generally shorter, lasting 7 years on average.

Most separated or divorced older Canadians have only been in one couple relationship

In 2017, almost two-thirds of separated and divorced Canadians aged 55 and older (63%) were separated or divorced from their first union (marriage or common-law). Over one-third (37%) were separated or divorced from their second or subsequent union.

Among adults aged 55 and older, the Canadian-born are more likely to be separated or divorced than the foreign-born

Among those aged 55 and older, the Canadian-born (15%) were more likely to be separated or divorced than immigrants or non-permanent residents (12%).

Women aged 55 and older (16%) were more likely than men (13%) in the same age group to be separated or divorced.

Quebec (17%) had the largest share of separated or divorced Canadians aged 55 and older, followed by British Columbia (15%), Ontario (14%) and the Prairie provinces (14%), and Atlantic Canada (13%).

Just over one-quarter of men and almost one-fifth of women separate or divorce after the age of 55

Canadians aged 55 and older in 2017 were on average 46 years old at the time of the dissolution of their previous marriage or common-law union.

On average, women (45 years old) were younger at the time of their last separation or divorce than men (47 years old).

Just over one-quarter of men (26%) and almost one-fifth of women (18%) who were separated or divorced from a previous marriage or common-law union, did so after the age of 55.

Products

The infographic "Family matters: Being separated or divorced and aged 55 or older" is now available online.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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