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Women Working LongerIncreased Employment at Older Ages$
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Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226532509

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226532646.001.0001

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Changes in Marriage and Divorce as Drivers of Employment and Retirement of Older Women

Changes in Marriage and Divorce as Drivers of Employment and Retirement of Older Women

(p.113) 4 Changes in Marriage and Divorce as Drivers of Employment and Retirement of Older Women
Women Working Longer

Claudia Olivetti

Dana Rotz

University of Chicago Press

We study associations among women’s current and past marital status and later-life labor force participation, which we document using data from the 1986 to 2008 waves of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). We exploit variation in divorce laws across states and over time to identify how the timing of an exogenous increase in divorce risk (the introduction of unilateral divorce) impacts employment and retirement outcomes for older women. The spread of unilateral divorce was associated with cross-cohort differences in the probability of divorce over the lifecycle. For women with a low risk of divorce, later exposure to unilateral divorce increases the probability of full-time employment later in life, and decreases retirement wealth. This suggests ever-divorced women are working longer remedially; when a woman unexpectedly divorces later in life, she is less likely to have engaged in precautionary human capital investment. For women with a high risk of divorce, later exposure to increases in divorce risk does not impact full-time employment after age 50 but is positively associated with investment in education post marriage. These women invest more in their own human capital within marriage, which might insure them against increases in exogenous divorce risk at later ages.

Keywords:   later life labor force participation, marital history, divorce, retirement

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