Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Wealth and the Influence of Marriage

Presenter Information

Loryn LawFollow
Yoon LeeFollow

Class

Article

Department

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Faculty Mentor

Yoon Lee

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Abstract

Most individuals can live comfortably on 40-60 percent of their current income at retirement (Nolo, n. d.). Unfortunately, about a third of Americans are not saving for retirement (da Costa, 2014). Further, about 26 percent of Americans age 50 to 54 and 14 percent of Americans age 65 or older have no savings (Kennedy, 2014). Compared to singles, married couples have more options to use their employee benefits to maximize gains (Brandon, 2014). For example, spouses of retirees are eligible for up to 50 percent of their retired spouses' Social Security benefits. Married individuals may also be eligible to claim survivor's spousal benefits (Brandon, 2014). Additionally, compared to singles, married couples can contribute more to their retirement accounts, including 401ks and IRAs (Brandon, 2014). The purpose of this study is to understand how marriage is associated with the wealth holdings of individuals approaching retirement. This study employs data from the 2010 Health and Retirement Study. The sample consisted of near-retirees age 51-64 (N = 4,080). The independent variables were marital status, income, family size, education, health status, age, gender, and race. The main dependent variable is the level of total net worth. OLS regression results indicate that, compared to being unmarried, being married is positively associated with the level of net worth among individuals approaching retirement. In addition, the results show that, all else being equal, higher income, fewer family members, higher education, better health, and being white significantly predict higher levels of net worth among those nearing retirement. The findings of this study could have important implications for family life educators, marriage counselors, and therapists helping clients understand the role of marriage in the accumulation of wealth. Further, financial educators and planners can help married individuals plan their assets to fill the financial gaps that divorce can cause.

Start Date

4-9-2015 10:30 AM

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Apr 9th, 10:30 AM

Wealth and the Influence of Marriage

Most individuals can live comfortably on 40-60 percent of their current income at retirement (Nolo, n. d.). Unfortunately, about a third of Americans are not saving for retirement (da Costa, 2014). Further, about 26 percent of Americans age 50 to 54 and 14 percent of Americans age 65 or older have no savings (Kennedy, 2014). Compared to singles, married couples have more options to use their employee benefits to maximize gains (Brandon, 2014). For example, spouses of retirees are eligible for up to 50 percent of their retired spouses' Social Security benefits. Married individuals may also be eligible to claim survivor's spousal benefits (Brandon, 2014). Additionally, compared to singles, married couples can contribute more to their retirement accounts, including 401ks and IRAs (Brandon, 2014). The purpose of this study is to understand how marriage is associated with the wealth holdings of individuals approaching retirement. This study employs data from the 2010 Health and Retirement Study. The sample consisted of near-retirees age 51-64 (N = 4,080). The independent variables were marital status, income, family size, education, health status, age, gender, and race. The main dependent variable is the level of total net worth. OLS regression results indicate that, compared to being unmarried, being married is positively associated with the level of net worth among individuals approaching retirement. In addition, the results show that, all else being equal, higher income, fewer family members, higher education, better health, and being white significantly predict higher levels of net worth among those nearing retirement. The findings of this study could have important implications for family life educators, marriage counselors, and therapists helping clients understand the role of marriage in the accumulation of wealth. Further, financial educators and planners can help married individuals plan their assets to fill the financial gaps that divorce can cause.