Declining eligibility for social security spouse and widow benefits in the United States?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Currently, two thirds of older women receive Social Security spouse and widow benefits, which are distributed on the basis of marital rather than employment status. But marriage rates are down, particularly among Black women. This study used June 1985, 1990, and 1995 Current Population Survey data to trace trends in marriage for women from five birth cohorts and to predict marital patterns for the latter three cohorts. The authors found that the proportion of women who will reach age 62 without 10-year marriages, and thus be ineligible for spouse and widow benefits, is increasing modestly for Whites and Hispanics but dramatically for African Americans. When women who were born in the 1960s reach age 62, 82% of Whites, 85% of Hispanics, and just 50% of Blacks will be eligible. The authors discuss alternative mechanisms for distributing benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-260
Number of pages21
JournalResearch on Aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Race
  • Social Security
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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