Do Women Still Spend Most of Their Lives Married?

by Alicia Munnell, Geoffrey T. Sanzenbacher, Sara Ellen King
Citation
Title:
Do Women Still Spend Most of Their Lives Married?
Author:
Alicia Munnell, Geoffrey T. Sanzenbacher, Sara Ellen King
Year: 
2017
Publication: 
Issue in Brief
Volume: 
17-14
Issue: 
Start Page: 
End Page: 
Publisher: 
Center for Retirement Research at Boston College
Language: 
English
URL: 
http://crr.bc.edu/briefs/do-women-still-spend-most-of-their-lives-married/
Select license: 
No License (All right reserved)
DOI: 
PMID: 
ISSN: 
Abstract:

People are often interested in studying the saving behavior of women. But one could argue that women have traditionally lived in households where the couple makes decisions jointly. In that world, the main distinction is between married women and single women, not between men and women. But the times are changing, so the question is whether women are still spending most of their lives married. This brief addresses that question using data from the Health and Retirement Study.

The discussion proceeds as follows. The first section describes the nature of the exercise and presents the basic results, which show a decline in the percentage of adult years spent married. The second section identifies the factors contributing to this decline: an increase in the age of first marriage, a drop in the percentage of women who marry, and – for those who do marry – an increase in divorce. The third section presents the results by race and education. The final section concludes that if women as a group now spend about half of their adult years unmarried, it probably makes sense to explore their savings and investment behavior separately from men. 

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