Women, Marriage, and the National Retirement Risk Index

IB#19-10

The brief’s key findings are:

  • Women are spending a growing share of their lives single, so it is useful to consider how their marital history affects their retirement preparedness.
  • While married women have much higher household earnings and wealth, they are more at risk of failing to maintain their standard of living in retirement.
  • This surprising result is driven by two-earner couples who:
    • get less from Social Security relative to their earnings due to the decline of the spousal benefit; and
    • save less in 401(k)s since often only one spouse has coverage.
  • These findings highlight the need for expanding coverage to all households and underscore the value of Social Security to single women.