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Section III reviews the relevant existing literature.Section IV provides evidence from the National Center for Health Statistics/Vital Statistics (), the primary data used in our analysis, that Social Security influences marriage behavior. Much of the discussion in this section focuses on widows who are under the age of 60 and who were married to persons who worked in Social Security covered employment.
In addition to providing empirical evidence for economic theory, understanding the role that Social Security plays in determining marital status is relevant for at least three reasons.In 1995, for example, the poverty rate of widows aged 65 or older was 19.2 percent.This is in sharp contrast to a 4.2 percent poverty rate for elderly married women ( Finally, marriage penalties in Social Security raise equity issues.Also, in the period, there was a drop in marriage rates immediately prior to age 60 and an increase after this age.We do not observe this pattern in the period before 1979, and we do not observe it for divorced women, who generally are not subject to the age-60 remarriage rule.
Jim Weed and Sally Curtain from the National Center for Health Statistics/Vital Statistics were very gracious about answering our data questions.