Theresa Nutz, In sole or joint names? The role of employment and marriage biographies for married women’s asset ownership in later life, Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, Volume 79, 2022, 100690, ISSN 0276-5624,
The way women hold assets within couples (solely or jointly) is a crucial dimension of their economic situation. This study examines the distribution of women’s assets within married couples and how the interplay of their employment and marriage biographies is related to their asset holdings in later life. Using data from the Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP; 2002, 2007, 2012, 2017), the author applies multichannel sequence and cluster analyses to examine patterns of female employment-marriage biographies in Western Germany. Fractional logit and ordinary least square regression models are utilised to predict the share and the level of women’s solely and jointly held assets within couples.
The findings show that the majority of married couples build strong economic units, holding most of their assets jointly. The share of solely and jointly held assets however varies considerably across couples, being lowest in couples with long-term female homemakers. Women’s accumulation of solely held wealth is found to require stable full-time employment, whereas the access to joint investments is defined by long-time employment arrangements of any type embedded in stable marriages from early in life on. In remarriages or late marriages, in contrast, women’s joint wealth holdings are reduced. However, this lack cannot be compensated by increased investments in solely held wealth, leaving remarried and late married women with overall lower levels of wealth than stable or early married women. This study indicates that women’s financial independence provided by their high labour market participation does not reduce the degree of financial jointness within marriage.