Marital Histories and Economic Well-Being

Published: 2008


Family composition has changed dramatically over the past 25 years. Divorce rates rapidly increased from the late 1960’s through the 1980’s, and, although the majority of divorced individuals eventually remarry, remarriage rates have also declined. This research asks, what are the effects of changes in marital status, and their number, duration and timing, on wealth levels near retirement? We use panel data from the Health and Retirement Study and matched Social Security earnings records to identify the effect of marital histories on wealth controlling for lifetime earnings.

Key Findings