By Craig Erwin, Ph.D.
There is nothing more rewarding than a healthy marriage. But many of us don’t appreciate all the financial benefits that can come with marriage. Joyce A. Joyce published a book titled Women, Marriage and Wealth, which examines the ways marital status affects women’s wealth. Joyce identified valuable financial benefits that often come with marriage. For instance, married women tend to have greater financial security and wealth than unmarried women because they tend to have more assets and sources of income, and because they can use their spouse’s income, pensions, and Social Security income, in addition to their own income. Joyce also found that financial insecurity is especially common among older women. Unfortunately, when women hit the age of 65, their financial situation often becomes precarious, whether they are married or not.
Joyce found that the end of a woman’s marriage, whether due to death or divorce, is likely to result in increased financial hardship both in the short and long term. But, getting old is especially fraught with risk for unmarried women. Elderly unmarried women are more likely than elderly married women to live in poverty. This is true, in part, because elderly married women are likely to derive income from more sources, such as wages, salaries, assets, private pensions, and government pensions.
Joyce’s research confirms that getting old can be very risky for women, especially for unmarried women. But marriage can reduce the financial risks that elderly women face. As a result, although it is quite possible to live a fulfilling, happy life without marrying, women need to know the financial benefits of marriage and the financial risks that come with being single. In addition to helping women live longer, healthier lives, marriage can also boost their financial well-being, especially in their later years when financial hardship is especially common and dangerous.
Obviously, you should not marry or divorce solely due to financial considerations. But making such an important decision without considering financial consequences is foolhardy. Spending your senior years in poverty might be a high price to pay for a rash decision.
Have you planned well for your golden years? Is it possible or likely that you will be single when you retire?
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