Diverging Eligibility for Social Security Spouse and Widow Benefits?: Marital Trends among Non-Hispanic Black and White Women, 1990-2004

Howard Iams, U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA)
Christopher R. Tamborini, U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA)
Kevin Whitman, U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA)

Large-scale changes in American family structures have important implications for the retirement experience of women. We use a Restricted-Use File to the Marital History Module of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation to investigate changes in the marital histories of women aged 40 to 69 between 1990 and 2004. The study focuses on the marital events relevant for eligibility for Social Security spouse and widow benefits. Logistic regression analyses estimate the likelihood of four marital events important to Social Security spouse and widow benefit eligibility. Results show significant marital pattern change among women, with more substantial shifts occurring among black women from the late baby-boom cohort. The implications of recent marital trends are assessed in relation to future patterns of women’s eligibility for Social Security spouse and widow benefits.

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Presented in Poster Session 5