Poor survivors? Economic consequences of death of spouse | Munich Center for the Economics of Aging - MEA
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Poor survivors? Economic consequences of death of spouse

Content

The main objective of public survivor benefit programs is to prevent poverty or to maintain the living
standard after widowhood. In this paper, we analyze the financial consequences of widowhood and
the role of the survivor pension systems in Europe. More concretely, we evaluate the need for survivor
pensions in old age and assess whether the social security systems are (over-)fulfilling their target of
supporting survivors. We use longitudinal data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in
Europe (SHARE) and create a generosity index based on country specific details of the survivor pension
programs. Our results show that survivor programs are necessary if the aim is to maintain the standard
of living after widowhood. The survivor pensions keep the per capita income at a relatively stable level
and we find no evidence that financial problems increase with widowhood. However, there are large
differences between the countries, which can partly be explained by our generosity index.

Publication Details
csm_csm_felizia-12-0663-38_32615a547b_74ebc3b808

Felizia Hanemann

Rausch-2

Johannes Rausch

2020
Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA)
Munich
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