Is Housing an Issue for Older Adults with No Children? What about Hunger?

A new report compares older adults who don’t have children with those who do

Bella DePaulo
7 min readSep 2, 2021

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Photo by Ravi Patel on Unsplash

The Census Bureau just released their first-ever report on older people in the U.S. who do not have biological children. For those of us interested in single people, the report is relevant because 7 out of 10 older adults who have never married do not have any biological children. It is also important because single people with no kids are too often missing from policy discussions and legal protections, which so often focus on family instead, so this new attention is welcome.

For my “Living Single” blog at Psychology Today, I summarized what the report had to say about how older people with no biological children compare to biological parents in marital status, living arrangements, health, disability, wealth, poverty, and education. Some of the findings were quite striking — for example, the older women with no biological children had fewer disabilities, better health, and more wealth than all the other groups — biological mothers, biological fathers, and men with no biological children.

Although the women with no biological kids had the greatest net worth, the older people without biological children, including both the men and the women, were more likely to have incomes that fall below the poverty line. The authors reconcile those findings by suggesting that there are subgroups of people with no children, including some who are doing quite well financially and others who are struggling.

Here I want to share a few other findings from the report, about how older adults with and without biological children compare in the quality of their housing and their neighborhoods, and in their food insecurity and the help they are getting in dealing with that. As you will see, older people with no biological children are more likely than biological fathers to have problems with housing, their neighborhoods, and with going hungry, but they typically do not differ much from biological mothers in those matters.

Quality of Housing and Neighborhoods

Problems with the quality of housing

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Bella DePaulo

“America’s foremost thinker and writer on the single experience,” according to the Atlantic. SINGLE AT HEART book coming on Dec 5, 2023. www.belladepaulo.com