Research & Analysis by David R. Weir

The Economic Consequences of a Husband's Death: Evidence from the HRS and AHEAD
from Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 65, No. 3 (released January 2005)
by Purvi Sevak, David R. Weir, and Robert J. Willis

Despite increased labor force participation rates among women and reforms under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, widowhood remains an important risk factor for transition into poverty, although somewhat less so than 20 years ago. Women widowed at younger ages are at greatest risk for economic hardship after widowhood, and their situation declines with the duration of widowhood. We also find that women in households that are least prepared financially for widowhood are at greatest risk of a husband's death, because of the strong relationship between mortality and wealth.