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Social Security and Divorce Decisions

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  • Marcus Dillender

    ()
    (W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research)

Abstract

People who have divorced are entitled to Social Security spousal benefits if their marriages lasted at least ten years. This paper uses 1985-1995 Vital Statistics data and the 2008-2011 American Community Surveys to analyze how this rule affects divorce decisions. I find evidence that the ten-year rule results in a small increase in divorces for the general population; however, the effects vary greatly by age. Divorce decisions change very little for people under the age of 35. For people 55 and older, however, divorces increase by approximately 20 percent around the ten-year cutoff, which leads to an increase in the likelihood of being divorced of 11.7 percent at ten years of marriage. For people between the ages of 35 and 55, who account for over half of divorces, the likelihood of being divorced increases by almost 6 percent as marriages cross the ten-year mark. This heterogeneity across ages likely exists because older people are more focused on retirement and have less time to remarry. These results indicate many people delay divorcing because they need Social Security benefits.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in its series Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles with number 14-206.

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Date of creation: Jan 2014
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Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:14-206

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Keywords: Marriage; Divorce; Social Security;

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  1. Jonathan Gardner & Andrew J. Oswald, 2006. "Do divorcing couples become happier by breaking up?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 169(2), pages 319-336.
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  8. David Card & Carlos Dobkin & Nicole Maestas, 2008. "The Impact of Nearly Universal Insurance Coverage on Health Care Utilization: Evidence from Medicare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 2242-58, December.
  9. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  10. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Ming Ching Luoh, 2010. "Male Incarceration, the Marriage Market, and Female Outcomes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(3), pages 614-627, August.
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