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Key Findings Details

Marital Histories and Economic Well-Being
Julie Zissimopoulos, Benjamin Karney and Amy J. Rauer
WP 2008-180

  • Less than half of HRS respondents have one continuous marriage throughout their lives. Younger cohorts are more likely to have one or more divorces, to experience them at younger ages, and are less likely to remarry.
  • We find no wealth differences between continuously married couples and those remarried after one disruption. However, remarried people with two or more disruptions have lower wealth than continuously married couples.
  • After accounting for many possible explanations, we find that single women have lower wealth than continuously married women. One explanation could be financial literacy, which is the lowest for divorced women. Among college educated women, never married were more likely to answer a financial literacy question correctly than divorced women, who may not have invested in understanding complex financial decisions while married.