Married people usually take the future needs of their spouse into account when they plan for retirement. While this is recommended, it is interesting to learn the odds of actually being survived by a spouse. In pension plan valuations, actuaries typically assume that about 80 per cent of pension plan members will have a spouse at the point of retirement. In the general population, the actual percentage who will have a spouse when they die – including common-law and same-sex couples – is substantially lower than that. Barely half of men who die at age 60 have a spouse at the time of death. In the case of men who die at age 80, a somewhat higher percentage are survived by a spouse. The exact opposite is true for women who find themselves increasingly alone as they get older. Only 11 per cent of women who live until age 90 are survived by a spouse. These statistics are based on CPP data from 2009 to 2021 with some smoothing.
Frederick Vettese is former chief actuary of Morneau Shepell and author of Retirement Income for Life.
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