Panel: Retirement Security and Trends in Family Structure
(Population and Migration Issues)

Thursday, November 2, 2017: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Ogden (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Alice Zulkarnain, Boston College
Panel Chairs:  Alice Zulkarnain, Boston College
Discussants:  Yulya Truskinovsky, Harvard University and Marcus Dillender, -


How Much Does Motherhood Cost Women in Social Security Income
Matthew S. Rutledge, Alice Zulkarnain and Sara Ellen King, Boston College


The traditional nuclear family and the traditional division of labor has changed dramatically over the course of the last 50 years. Compared to the 1950s, families are less likely to be headed by a husband breadwinner and a wife who takes care of the children.  Since then, female labor force participation has increased markedly, changing the women’s traditional focus from home production to market production. At the same time, couples are now more likely to get divorced, while more recently, same-sex couples can now be legally married. Moreover, income inequality has increased.

All these changes and developments impact retirement security. While the traditional couple relied on the assets, pension and Social Security income earned only by the husband, many couples today also have access to pensions and Social Security earned on the wives’ account, improving retirement security for the family. Women’s access to their own earned retirement income is especially important for divorced women. Concurrently, the retirement security of same-sex couples is greatly improved by the legalization of same-sex marriage, by giving them access to more retirement benefits. But rising income inequality in general has likely led to greater inequality in retirement security for all of these groups.

This panel consists of 4 papers that focus on each of the changes that the traditional nuclear family has experienced over the last decades and how they affect earnings growth and retirement security. It relates to the conference theme because it includes papers that combine surveys with administrative data, and each address known measurement issues important to answering policy-relevant questions that fit in the theme Population and Migration issues, and in particular policy reactions to demographic changes, in novel ways.

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