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It may be necessary for a woman to comply with the social customs of her area because her fiscal stature depends on it, but this custom is also often abused by others as a way to keep money within the deceased spouse's family.It is also uncommon for widows to challenge their treatment because they are often "unaware of their rights under the modern law…because of their low status, and lack of education or legal representation." As of 2004, women in United States who were "widowed at younger ages are at greatest risk for economic hardship." Similarly, married women who are in a financially unstable household are more likely to become widows "because of the strong relationship between mortality [of the male head] and wealth [of the household]." In underdeveloped and developing areas of the world, conditions for widows continue to be much more severe.A study has been done in order to show that women are more likely to yearn for their late husband if he were to be taken away suddenly from her.Men on the other hand tend to be more likely to long for their late wife if she were to pass away after suffering a long, terminal illness.
In some patriarchal societies, widows may maintain economic independence.
A variable that is deemed important and relative to the effects of widowhood is the gender of the widow.