The country’s changing demographics, in particular the decline in households with married couples, has implications for both retirement and insurance, according to an analysis done for the MetLife Mature Market Institute.
Data from the 2010 census show that married couples now make up less than half of households for the first time, and that over the last 50 years while the total number of households nearly doubled, the number of households of married couples with children actually declined in raw numbers.
Meanwhile, the percentage of people living alone has doubled to 27 percent of households, a virtual tie for the largest group of households with married couples with no children under 18.
The analysis notes that many retirement programs are built on a primary benefit for the wage earner plus a spousal or survivor benefit provision. However, for a single person that added benefit will not be available and the entire obligation to save for retirement falls on the individual.
Further, health care and long term care insurance programs are designed on the assumption of a certain level of care at home—either convalescent care after a health episode, or continuing care for persons with long term care type needs. Underlying the viability of such systems is that another person is in the household to provide such care—which isn’t the case for a single person living alone.
For example, almost half of householders age 65 or older live alone, making home health care for them more expensive to them if they have to pay for care not covered by insurance.