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Department of Gerontology, University of Southampton
Fully-funded PhD Studentship in Gerontology
Although the divorce rate in the UK amongst the population of all ages has been falling over the past two decades, the likelihood of experiencing divorce at ages 60 and over has been rising (ONS, 2015). In 1993, the divorce rate amongst men aged 60 and over was 1.7 per 1,000 married people; by 2013 this had risen to 2.3 /1,000 (ONS, 2015). Continuing improvements in life expectancy, with men and women now facing the prospect of a further 20-25 years of life post 60, changing social norms around divorce and the improved financial position of women may mean that in future more individuals may choose to get divorced in mid- and later-life. Recent policy changes in the area of pensions may further support this trend; the pension reforms introduced in April 2015 mean that many individuals among the over-55 age group are able to access their entire pension pot as cash, aiding older people in splitting their assets and potentially making financial separation easier (DWP, 2016). As divorce in later life has increased, so too has the number of remarriages taking place at ages 60 and over (ONS, 2014). Re-partnership in later life generates new challenges for family relationships, with issues of step grand parenting, inheritance and familial provision of long-term care taking on new resonances. To date, there has been relatively little research examining the changing patterns of partnership dissolution and reformation in later life and the potential consequences for older individuals' financial resources and health status and their relationships with their adult children and grandchildren and the implications for policy makers. This PhD therefore has the potential to make a major contribution to the literature by filling this gap. The proposed study will use two ESRC investments, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and Understanding Society (USoc). ELSA is a unique and rich resource of information on the health, social, wellbeing and economic circumstances of the English population aged 50 and older. The current sample contains data from six waves of data collection covering a period of eleven years. Although the ELSA has been used extensively to explore the health and financial situation of older people, it has been under-used in the context of partnership formation and dissolution, which is the focus of this project. This analysis will be complemented by analysis of the partnership history data collected in wave 2 of Understanding Society (USoc) and linked to subsequent waves 3-5. A longer historical perspective will also be provided by analysis of the BHPS, again linked to wave 2 of USoc for the continuing participants of the BHPS (Knies, 2015).
Location: Southampton
Salary: This award is a +3 PhD studentship (3 years funding). Studentships awarded by the Southampton ESRC-DTP cover programme fees and an annual Maintenance Grant.
Deadline: 25 June 2018
Skills required: In line with the ESRC's training requirements for DTP studentships, the PhD student will be expected to have completed the core training requirement through a postgraduate taught degree in social statistics or a social sciences discipline including a significant component of research methods. There will be the opportunity during the PhD for the successful applicant to undertake further training in advanced quantitative methods, such as event history analysis and sequence analysis.

Potential supervisors: Professor Maria Evandrou, Professor Jane Falkingham and Dr Athina Vlachantoni.

Southampton ESRC-DTP studentships also provide access to Research Training Support Grants, funding for Overseas Fieldwork, and additional funding awards for Overseas Institutional Visits, and Internships.

The PhD Programme of study for this studentship must be commenced in the 2018-9 Academic Year.
How to Apply
Applications: Applicants must also have completed a University of Southampton online application form for the appropriate PhD Programme prior to the submission of the DTP Studentship application form. Please note the CLOSING DATE is 25th June 2018. The details for the application process can be found here:
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