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Divorce: Economic Issues

The Economic Situation Of Divorced Older Women, What About The Future?, Two Key Developments, Social Security Provisions Relating To Divorce

Divorce is a major stage in life for large numbers of older men and women in the United States (and many other countries). For example, in the United States in 2000, there were more than a million women over the age of sixty-two who were either divorced or separated. Until now this group of women has been relatively invisible within the elderly population.

Difficult as it is to believe, few statistics have been published on divorced older persons and their economic situation. It is common practice in statistical tabulations published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census to combine divorced persons with those who "never married" and/or those who are "widowed." The result is that we know relatively little about this important sub-group of the elderly population. Yet this group is destined to become much more important in years to come, given the fact that divorce rates in the United States have soared to record high levels.

The economic well-being of many older persons has improved over the years. At the same time, there has been increasing concern about those elderly persons whose economic situation remains poor. Numerous studies have documented that poverty among older persons is increasingly concentrated among older women and minorities. Also, there is growing agreement among researchers and policymakers that more attention must be given to understanding why poverty persists among these groups and the feasibility of alternative policies that would effectively respond to the problems.

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