Selected Research & Analysis: Demographic Characteristics > Divorced

Related Fact Sheet

Divorced Spousal Beneficiaries in 2050
Population Projection (released August 2021)
Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Retirement Prospects of Divorced Women
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 72, No. 1 (released February 2012)
by Barbara A. Butrica and Karen E. Smith

The authors use the Social Security Administration's Modeling Income in the Near Term (version 6) to describe the likely characteristics, work experience, Social Security benefit status, and economic well-being of future divorced women at age 70, by race and ethnicity. Factors associated with higher retirement incomes include having a college degree; having a strong history of labor force attachment; receiving Social Security benefits; and having pensions, retirement accounts, or assets, regardless of race and ethnicity. However, because divorced black and Hispanic women are less likely than divorced white women to have these attributes, income sources, or assets, their projected average retirement incomes are lower than those of divorced white women.

The Retirement Prospects of Divorced Women
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 72, No. 1 (released February 2012)
by Barbara A. Butrica and Karen E. Smith

To project the retirement resources and well-being of divorced women, the authors use the Social Security Administration's Modeling Income in the Near Term (version 6). Findings show that Social Security benefits and retirement incomes are projected to increase for divorced women and that their poverty rates are projected to decline, due in large part to women's increasing lifetime earnings. However, not all divorced women will be equally well off; economic well-being in retirement varies by Social Security benefit type.

Divorced Women at Retirement: Projections of Economic Well-Being in the Near Future
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 63, No. 3 (released July 2001)
by Barbara A. Butrica and Howard M. Iams

This article describes the economic resources and economic well-being of future divorced women at retirement using data from the Social Security Administration's project on Modeling Income in the Near Term (MINT). The MINT model projects that in the near term, there will be more divorced women of retirement age. Because fewer of those women are projected to meet the 10-year marriage requirement, the proportion of economically vulnerable aged women is expected to increase when the baby boom retires.

The Accuracy of Survey-Reported Marital Status: Evidence from Survey Records Matched to Social Security Records
ORES Working Paper No. 80 (released January 1999)
by David A. Weaver

Many researchers have concluded that, in surveys, divorced persons often fail to report accurate marital information. In this paper, I revisit this issue using a new source of data—surveys exactly matched to Social Security data. I find that divorced persons frequently misreport their marital status, but there is evidence that the misreporting is unintentional. A discussion of possible improvements in surveys is presented. Implications for the study of differential mortality and the study of poverty among aged women are discussed.

The Economic Well-Being of Social Security Beneficiaries, with an Emphasis on Divorced Beneficiaries
ORES Working Paper No. 73 (released December 1997)
by David A. Weaver

There are numerous types of benefits paid under the Social Security programs of the United States, with each type of benefit having its own set of eligibility rules and benefit formula. It is likely that there is an association between the type of benefit a person receives and the economic circumstances of the beneficiary. This paper explores that association using records from the Current Population Survey exactly matched to administrative records from the Social Security Administration. Divorced beneficiaries are a particular focus of this paper.

Type of benefit is found to be a strong predictor of economic well-being. Two large groups of beneficiaries, retired-worker and aged married-spouse beneficiaries, are fairly well off. Other types of beneficiaries tend to resemble the overall U.S. population or are decidedly worse off. Divorced-spouse beneficiaries have an unusually high incidence of poverty and of serious health problems. A proposal to increase benefits for these beneficiaries is evaluated. Results indicate that much of the additional government expenditures would be received by those with low income.

The Economic Well-Being of Social Security Beneficiaries, with an Emphasis on Divorced Beneficiaries
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 60, No. 4 (released October 1997)
by David A. Weaver

There are numerous types of benefits paid under the Social Security programs of the United States, with each type of benefit having its own set of eligibility rules and benefit formula. It is likely that there is an association between the type of benefit a person receives and the economic circumstances of the beneficiary. This article explores that association using records from the Current Population Survey exactly matched to administrative records from the Social Security Administration. Divorced beneficiaries are a particular focus of this article.

Type of benefit is found to be a strong predictor of economic well-being. Two large groups of beneficiaries, retired-worker and aged married spouse beneficiaries, are fairly well-off. Other types of beneficiaries tend to resemble the overall U.S. population or are decidedly worse off. Divorced spouse beneficiaries have an unusually high incidence of poverty and an unusually high incidence of serious health problems. A proposal to increase benefits for these beneficiaries is evaluated. Results of the analyses indicate that much of the additional Government expenditures would be received by those with low income.

Determinants of Divorce
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 53, No. 2 (released February 1990)
by Lee A. Lillard and Linda J. Waite