Wealth Inequalities Among Seniors: The Increasing Role of Marital Histories

Enrica Maria Martino, Institut National d’Études Démographiques (INED)
Carole Bonnet , Institut National d’Études Démographiques (INED)
Benoît Rapoport, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Anne Solaz, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

Wealth accumulation is the result of several factors: saving behaviors, work and marital histories. In line with the increasing diversity of marital histories and recent literature on gender inequality in wealth, this paper explores the specific contribution of marital histories to seniors wealth accumulation. We focus on individuals aged 50 or more and assume that marital and labor market life courses interact, especially among women, for whom labor supply is more elastic to family arrangements. Using data from household wealth surveys conducted in France in 2004, 2009 and 2014, we evaluate the contribution of marital histories to individual wealth across different birth cohorts. For 50 and over, the accumulated wealth depends more on marital history than on professional history, especially for women. Large inequalities in wealth by past marital history are found among single women in recent cohorts: married and widow being wealthier, than divorced, separated or always single.

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 Presented in Session 218. Family Histories and Economic Outcomes: Comparative European Perspectives