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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

Editor-in-Chief: Jürges, Hendrik / Ludwig, Sandra

Ed. by Auriol, Emmanuelle / Brunner, Johann / Fleck, Robert / Mastrobuoni, Giovanni / Mendola, Mariapia / Requate, Till / Schirle, Tammy / de Vries, Frans / Zulehner, Christine

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Volume 16, Issue 2


Volume 6 (2006)

Volume 4 (2004)

Volume 2 (2002)

Volume 1 (2001)

Social Security and Divorce

Marcus Dillender
  • Corresponding author
  • W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 300 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49007-4686, USA
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Published Online: 2016-02-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bejeap-2015-0168


This paper studies how the likelihood and timing of divorce are influenced by Social Security’s 10-year rule, which provides spousal benefits to divorced people if their marriages lasted at least 10 years. Bunching analysis indicates that approximately 2 % of divorces occurring in the 6 months after 10-year anniversaries would have occurred earlier if not for Social Security’s 10-year rule. For older couples, who are likely more focused on retirement and have greater earning disparities, divorces are approximately 9 % higher in the 2 years after 10-year anniversaries than would be predicted without the abrupt change in Social Security benefits. The increase in divorces after 10 years of marriage appears to come from couples with disparate earning records.

Keywords: marriage; divorce; social security

JEL: J12; H5; J18


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About the article

Revised: 2016-01-20

Published Online: 2016-02-27

Published in Print: 2016-04-01

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, Volume 16, Issue 2, Pages 931–971, ISSN (Online) 1935-1682, ISSN (Print) 2194-6108, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bejeap-2015-0168.

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