Volume 44 - Article 14 | Pages 349–362

LAT relationships: A new living arrangement among the oldest old population in Germany?

By Stefan Mauritz, Michael Wagner

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Date received:24 Sep 2020
Date published:12 Feb 2021
Word count:2499
Keywords:living apart together (LAT), living arrangements, old age, partnership


Background: Although there is a lot of research analyzing the distribution and pluralization of living arrangements, only a few studies have focused on the partnership forms of the oldest old population. In particular, very little is known about the prevalence of ‘living-apart-together’ (LAT) relationships in this age group.

Objective: This study examines the extent of coresidential partnerships and LAT relationships among the population aged 80 years and older in the most populated German state, North Rhine-Westphalia.

Methods: We use cross-sectional data from the 2016–2018 survey Quality of Life and Subjective Well-Being of the Very Old in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW80+). The representative sample contains 1,863 individuals aged 80 years or older, including 211 nursing home residents. We present descriptive statistics considering differences in gender, age, and marital status.

Results: The average share of LAT relationships among old-age partnerships is 13.3%. While the share of partnerships is declining among the oldest old individuals from the age of 80 years onward, the proportion of LAT relationships in relation to coresidential partnerships is increasing. Marital unions in which partners do not share a common household turned out to be a prevalent living arrangement.

Contribution: This is the first study to examine the extent of LAT relationships among the oldest old population in Germany. We demonstrate with unique data that LAT relationships are a common partnership type in old age. While most studies concentrate on partnerships with joint households, the extent of new living arrangements in old age could be underestimated and should receive more attention in current research.

Author's Affiliation

Stefan Mauritz - Universität zu Köln, Germany [Email]
Michael Wagner - Universität zu Köln, Germany [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

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» On the links between employment, partnership quality, and the desire to have a first child: The case of West Germany
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» A comparative analysis of leaving home in the United States, the Netherlands and West Germany
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