Subjectively perceived challenges of widowhood – Gender differences and time effects

Höpflinger, F.; Spahni, Stefanie; Perrig-Chiello, Pasqualina (2013). Subjectively perceived challenges of widowhood – Gender differences and time effects. Zeitschrift für Familienforschung, 25(3), pp. 267-285. Barbara Budrich

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Research on bereavement has traditionally focussed on widowhood as either a social or individual event, but rarely under both perspectives. Furthermore, little is known whether existing research results mirror period or cohort effects. The aim of this article is to investigate constancies and changes in the retrospective perception of the challenges of widowhood of elderly women and men living in different decades in Switzerland. Data stem from three questionnaire studies with 1,197 widowed men and women (aged 65-102 years) carried out in 1979, 1994, and 2011. Results reveal that the subjective interpretations mirror the significant improvement of the economic and social situation of widowed individuals in Switzerland over the last decades, particularly for women. In contrast, no significant time effects can be observed with regard to the psychological challenges of marital loss in old age (redefinition of sense of life, feelings of loneliness). These findings suggest, that even in good socio-economic conditions widowhood remains psychologically a critical life event.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Developmental Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Spahni, Stefanie and Perrig-Chiello, Pasqualina


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




Barbara Budrich




Katja Margelisch

Date Deposited:

20 Jun 2014 13:22

Last Modified:

13 Jan 2015 03:54

Uncontrolled Keywords:

gender differences, psychosocial challenges, time effects, widowhood, Verwitwung, psychosoziale Herausforderungen, Geschlechterunterschiede, Zeiteffekte




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