Past studies have concluded that Social Security retirement benefits and private pension plan survivor benefits are important sources of income for widows. Using data from the New Beneficiary Surveys of the Social Security Administration, we examine the effect of the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act on the choice of a joint-and-survivor pension, which provides pension benefits to the surviving spouse of a pensioner. We find that ERISA has substantially increased the percentage of widows who receive a survivor pension. We then explore some of the factors associated with choice of a joint-and-survivor pension.
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