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Die Einkommenssituation und -entwicklung Verwitweter in Deutschland


  • Heribert Engstler
  • Tobias Wolf
  • Andreas Motel-Klingbiel


The participation of the elderly in social prosperity has been a successful development for a long period of time but lately seems to get stuck. Old-age pensions of newly retired has been descending for years and real household income in later life is stagnating. Elderly people living in a single household are at an above- average risk of income poverty, which leads to the assumption that widowed persons more often than other groups tend to live in precarious income conditions. Although the public survivors' insurance compensates the effects of an income shock due to the death of a spouse up to a certain degree it does not necessarily enable to maintain the standard of living in widowhood. This article therefore addresses the development of the total income situation for widows and widowers. Using microdata from the German Ageing Survey (DEAS), income development can be traced from 1996 onwards, and effects of occupational and social determinants on the level of income are taken into account. Results show an increase of real equivalence income for the widows and widowers over time, with the exception of East German women. Gender, East or West Germany, social class, labour force participation and pillar of old age insurance are pivotal predictors for the income of widowed individuals. Women with low labour force participation over their lifecourse (housewife marriages) tend to have lower income and thus a higher poverty risk when their spouse deceases. Es mehren sich die Anzeichen, dass die sozialpolitische Erfolgsgeschichte der Beteiligung alter Menschen am gesellschaftlichen Wohlstand ins Stocken geraten ist. So sinken seit Jahren die Beträge der neu bewilligten Altersrenten und das Realeinkommen im Alter. Die überdurchschnittliche Armutsquote alleinlebender alter Menschen lässt vermuten, dass Verwitwete ein erhöhtes Risiko für prekäre Einkommenslagen haben. Zwar begrenzt die Hinterbliebenensicherung in der Gesetzlichen Rentenversicherung (GRV) den Einkommensausfall beim Tod des Versicherten, aber die Rente allein reicht oft nicht zur Sicherung des Lebensstandards aus. Vor diesem Hintergrund untersucht der Beitrag auf der Grundlage des Deutschen Alterssurveys (DEAS) die Entwicklung des Gesamteinkommens verwitweter Frauen und Männer seit Mitte der 90er Jahre und den Einfluss beruflicher und sozialer Determinanten auf die Einkommenshöhe. Die Ergebnisse zeigen eine positive Entwicklung des realen Äquivalenzeinkommens Verwitweter mit Ausnahme der ostdeutschen Witwen. Geschlecht, Landesteil, Sozialschicht, Erwerbsbeteiligung und Alterssicherungszweig sind zentrale Faktoren des Einkommens Verwitweter. Frauen mit nur wenigen Erwerbsjahren (Hausfrauenehen) haben als Verwitwete ein relativ niedriges Einkommen und erhöhtes Armutsrisiko. Überdurchschnittlich ist das Einkommen von Witwern und Verwitweten mit Beamtenversorgung.

Suggested Citation

  • Heribert Engstler & Tobias Wolf & Andreas Motel-Klingbiel, 2011. "Die Einkommenssituation und -entwicklung Verwitweter in Deutschland," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 80(4), pages 77-102.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwvjh:80-4-5
    DOI: 10.3790/vjh.80.4.77

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard V. Burkhauser & Philip Giles & Dean R. Lillard & Johannes Schwarze, 2005. "Until Death Do Us Part: An Analysis of the Economic Well-Being of Widows in Four Countries," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 60(5), pages 238-246.
    2. Jan Goebel & Markus M. Grabka, 2011. "Zur Entwicklung der Altersarmut in Deutschland," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 78(25), pages 3-16.
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    More about this item


    Widowhood; income; survivors¿ pension; DEAS; German Ageing Survey; Germany;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs


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