November 6, 2015

CAAR – National Center for Family & Marriage Research [Bowling Green State University] Working Paper – November 6, 2015

Filed under: Working Papers — Tags: , , — admin @ 4:39 pm

Marital Biography, Social Security, and Poverty,” by I-Fen Lin, Susan L. Brown, and Anna M. Hammersmith (WP-2015-001, November 2015, .pdf format, 33p.).


Increasingly, older adults are unmarried, which could mean a larger share is at risk of economic disadvantage. Using data from the 2010 Health and Retirement Study, we chart the diverse range of marital biographies, capturing marital sequences and timing, of adults who are age eligible for Social Security and examine three indicators of economic well-being: Social Security receipt, Social Security benefit levels, and poverty status. Partnereds are disproportionately likely to receive Social Security and they enjoy relatively high Social Security benefits and very low poverty levels. Among singles, economic well-being varies by marital biography and gender. Gray divorced and never-married women face considerable economic insecurity. Their Social Security benefits are relatively low and their poverty rates are quite high (over 25%), indicating Social Security alone is not sufficient to prevent these women from falling into poverty. By comparison, late widoweds are the most advantaged singles.

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