Among elderly Singaporeans, women and the less educated are most likely to live alone while those with more children and higher education are less likely to do so.

This is according to a local study conducted by Duke-NUS Centre for Ageing Research and Education.  A total of 4,990 Singaporeans aged 60 and above were surveyed in 2009, with 3,103 of these Singaporeans re-interviewed in 2011.

88 per cent of older Singaporeans lived with their spouse and/or children at the time the study was conducted. Only a small proportion lived with others (6 per cent) or alone (6 per cent).

While many of the study’s findings are in line with existing literature, one surprising find was that older women living with their children tend to be less socially integrated.

Data from the study revealed that elderly men who live alone are more susceptible to financial and social woes. In comparison, elderly women who live with their children – but not a spouse – tend to have little outside contact, and a low sense of control over their lives.

“The traditional idea is that older women living with their children are fine, but not having a spouse seems to shrink their social network. Moving into their child’s house may also make them feel like they have to go by their child’s rules, and have less control,” said Associate Professor Angelique Chan, one of the study’s lead researchers.

More outreach should be done to this group, she added.

The results were presented last Thursday at a conference on inter-generational transfer, human capital and inequality at the National University of Singapore (NUS).