National Center for Family and Marriage Research Family Profiles

Document Type



Sociodemographic variation is evident not just in marriage and divorce, but also widowhood. Using National Vital Statistics, Decennial Census, and American Community Survey data to cover the years 1940 to 2018, we document trends in the proportions of ever-married men and women who are widowed. Then, focusing on women (who experience higher levels of widowhood than men), we examine variation in widowhood across race/ethnicity, education, and age. The proportion of ever-married adults who are widowed reflects not only change in the widowhood rate, but also the changing propensity for widow(er)s to remarry and exit the widowed state. For more information on changes in marital statuses over time, see our profiles on more than century of change in marriage (FP-20-21) and a more than a century of change in divorce (FP-20-22).

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National Center for Family and Marriage Research