Women Who Stayed Single, No Kids, in Their 70s: How Are They Doing?

Bella DePaulo
4 min readSep 30, 2020

They are the women of the quadruple whammy, and they are doing great

If you are a woman, you have no kids, you have been single all your life, and you are in your 70s — well, mythologically speaking, you have four strikes against you. Men, people with kids, people who are married or have married, and young people are more often celebrated, respected, valued, and privileged. Some people will even call you names designed to evoke pity, such as elder orphans.

So what is life like for people in that quadruple whammy category — women who are in their mid-70s and have never married or had children? Do you think they are isolated and alone, poorly educated and just plain poor, unhealthy physically and mentally, needing more help than other women but giving less? That’s the stereotype.

Now, thanks to a study of more than 10,000 Australian women of all marital and parental statuses, I get to tell you about the reality. It is not a new study, but it is well worth revisiting.

The study compared five groups of women in their 70s:

§ Lifelong singles with no children

§ Married with children

§ Married with no children

§ Previously married with children

§ Previously married with no children

Here’s what the researchers found.

Education and Income

First, the lifelong single women were more highly educated than any other category of women. Nearly 40% of them had post-secondary education — at least twice as many as in any other group. They seemed to turn that education into income: They were more likely than the other women to say they could manage easily on their income.

Physical Health

On just about every measure of physical health, the lifelong single women did just the same, or even better, than the other women. Specifically, the lifelong single women:

§ Were least likely to be smokers

§ Were most likely to be non-drinkers

§ Had the healthiest body mass index

§ Had the fewest number of diagnoses of major illnesses

There were no differences among the various groups of women in general health, bodily pain, number of…

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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