Households and aging for men and women in Turkey

DeAnna L. Gore, University of South Carolina Aiken
Berkay Ozcan, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Elwood Carlson, Florida State University

As Turkey progresses through its fertility transition and the proportion of the older population continues to increase, research examining the social lives and implications of this older population becomes ever more important. Using the 2011 Turkish Survey on Family Structure, this paper examines the gender differences of household living arrangements among the older population. General patterns seen in other societies exist where most men in Turkey live as heads of their own households, usually with a partner, until they die. Women, on the other hand, experience aging very differently as women often become single heads of their own households as they lose partners and many become dependents in the households of their children or other relatives, particularly at the oldest ages. The Turkish context reveals some unusual anomalies in addition to these standard results. In urban areas, the share of women still living with partners in old age falls below the share observed in rural areas. Among these large number of older women without partners in cities, more remain heads of their own households than among rural women without partners. Whether a result of different cultural standards and traditions or different economic opportunities and constraints, it seems that the cities of Turkey provide a more supportive environment for older women without partners to retain their autonomy, independence, and householder status.

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Presented in Session 39: Living arrangements