The Impact of Changes in Couples' Earnings on Married Women's Social Security Benefits

by Barbara A. Butrica and Karen E. Smith
Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 72, No. 1, 2012
Table equivalent for Chart 1. Labor force participation rates of men and women, 1950–2010 (percent)
Year Men
aged 25–54
Women
aged 25–54
Men
aged 55–64
Women
aged 55–64
1950 97 37 87 27
1951 97 38 87 28
1952 97 39 88 29
1953 97 38 88 29
1954 97 39 89 30
1955 97 40 88 33
1956 97 41 89 35
1957 97 42 88 35
1958 97 42 88 35
1959 97 42 87 37
1960 97 43 87 37
1961 97 43 87 38
1962 97 43 86 39
1963 97 44 86 40
1964 97 45 86 40
1965 97 45 85 41
1966 97 46 85 42
1967 97 47 84 42
1968 96 48 84 42
1969 96 49 83 43
1970 96 50 83 43
1971 96 50 82 43
1972 95 51 80 42
1973 95 52 78 41
1974 95 54 77 41
1975 94 55 76 41
1976 94 57 74 41
1977 94 59 74 41
1978 94 61 73 41
1979 94 62 73 42
1980 94 64 72 41
1981 94 65 71 41
1982 94 66 70 42
1983 94 67 69 42
1984 94 68 69 42
1985 94 70 68 42
1986 94 71 67 42
1987 94 72 68 43
1988 94 73 67 44
1989 94 74 67 45
1990 93 74 68 45
1991 93 74 67 45
1992 93 75 67 47
1993 93 75 67 47
1994 92 75 66 49
1995 92 76 66 49
1996 92 76 67 50
1997 92 77 68 51
1998 92 77 68 51
1999 92 77 68 52
2000 92 77 67 52
2001 91 76 68 53
2002 91 76 69 55
2003 91 76 69 57
2004 91 75 69 56
2005 91 75 69 57
2006 91 76 70 58
2007 91 75 70 58
2008 91 76 70 59
2009 90 76 70 60
2010 89 75 70 60
SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics (2011).
Table equivalent for Chart 2. Median wage and salary earnings of men and women in Social Security–covered employment, 1940–2008 (in 2010 dollars)
Year Men Women
1940 14,563 7,352
1945 20,037 9,328
1950 22,909 10,170
1955 26,972 10,992
1960 28,576 12,369
1965 32,432 13,734
1970 34,732 15,371
1975 33,438 15,118
1980 31,658 15,910
1985 30,315 16,806
1990 29,333 18,080
1995 28,483 18,453
2000 31,698 20,624
2005 31,135 21,087
2008 30,690 21,323
SOURCE: SSA (2011).
Table equivalent for Chart 3. Percentage of married women and married couples projected to be eligible for retired-worker benefits at Social Security take-up age, by birth cohort
Birth cohort Wife eligible for retired-worker benefits Both husband and wife eligible for retired-worker benefits
War babies (1936–1945) 82 78
Leading boomers (1946–1955) 90 85
Trailing boomers (1956–1965) 93 89
GenXers (1966–1975) 93 88
SOURCE: Authors' calculations using MINT6 data.
NOTE: Sample includes married women in the year they claim Social Security benefits, but excludes those women projected to ever receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.
Table equivalent for Chart 5. Projected Social Security benefit status of married women at Social Security take-up age, by birth cohort (percent)
Birth cohort Benefit type
Auxiliary only Dually entitled Retired-worker only
War babies (1936–1945) 18 27 55
Leading boomers (1946–1955) 11 26 64
Trailing boomers (1956–1965) 7 21 71
GenXers (1966–1975) 7 18 75
SOURCE: Authors' calculations using MINT6 data.
NOTE: Sample includes married women in the year they claim Social Security benefits, but excludes those women projected to ever receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.
Table equivalent for Chart 6. Projected mean monthly Social Security benefits of married women at Social Security take-up age before and after their husbands die and percentage of women who will receive higher benefits as a survivor, by birth cohort
Birth cohort Monthly Social Security benefit (2011 dollars) Percentage with higher benefits
as a survivor
Husband
alive
Husband deceased
War babies (1936–1945) 1,028 1,560 82
Leading boomers (1946–1955) 1,213 1,741 77
Trailing boomers (1956–1965) 1,395 1,917 73
GenXers (1966–1975) 1,551 2,040 66
SOURCE: Authors' calculations using MINT6 data.
NOTE: Sample includes married women in the year they claim Social Security benefits, but excludes those women projected to ever receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.