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An Assessment of the Wealth Holdings of Recent Widows

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  • C. D. Zick
  • K. Holden
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    Abstract

    While the income disparity between widowed women and similarly aged married couples is well documented, we know far less about widows’ wealth holdings and how they compare to those of other households. Data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation are used to investigate the amount and composition of wealth held by four different groups: continuously married women, women who would soon be widowed, recent widows, and long-standing widows. The analyses reveal that about-to- be-widowed women have fewer assets than intact couples. From the data on recent widows we infer a decline in wealth holdings at the time of the husbands’ deaths. These wealth findings parallel what we know about income changes that surround the death of a spouse. The estimates also show that, generally, annuitizing wealth changes by very little the income flows and poverty risk among low-income widows.

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    Paper provided by University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty in its series Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers with number 1188-99.

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    Handle: RePEc:wop:wispod:1188-99

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    1. Wolff, Edward N, 1992. "Changing Inequality of Wealth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 552-58, May.
    2. James P. Smith, 2004. "Racial and Ethnic Differences in Wealth in the Health and Retirement Study," Labor and Demography 0408011, EconWPA.
    3. James P. Smith, 1997. "The Changing Economic Circumstances of the Elderly: Income, Wealth, and Social Security," Center for Policy Research Policy Briefs 8, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
    4. Hurd, Michael D, 1990. "Research on the Elderly: Economic Status, Retirement, and Consumption and Saving," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(2), pages 565-637, June.
    5. Hurd, Michael D, 1987. "Savings of the Elderly and Desired Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 298-312, June.
    6. John McNeil & Enrique Lamas, 1989. "Year-Apart Estimates of Household Net Worth from the Survey of Income and Program Participation," NBER Chapters, in: The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth, pages 431-472 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Michael D. Hurd & David A. Wise, 1987. "The Wealth and Poverty of Widows: Assets Before and After the Husband's Death," NBER Working Papers 2325, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. K. C. Holden & S. Nicholson, . "Selection of a Joint-and-Survivor Pension," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1175-98, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    9. Richard T. Curtin & Thomas Juster & James N. Morgan, 1989. "Survey Estimates of Wealth: An Assessment of Quality," NBER Chapters, in: The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth, pages 473-552 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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