An Assessment of the Wealth Holdings of Recent Widows
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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National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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