Are women and men equal? Not according to the facts
By Shon Peil
A recent report from the National Institute on Retirement shows shocking results regarding women in retirement. The report that women in retirement are 80% more likely than men to be impoverished.
The reasons are apparent; throughout a women’s working life their income is lower, less money is contributed to Social Security for retirement. Combine this with the known fact that women live longer than men.
The study found that women at all age groups have substantially less available income at retirement time than men. For women age 65 and older, the report indicates that their average income is as much as 25% lower than men.
As men and women grow older, the men’s income advantage widens to 44% by age 78. Consequently, women were 80% more likely than men to face poverty at age 65 and older. Women who reach age 75 to 79 were three times more likely to fall below the poverty level than were men.
These findings are contained in a new report, Shortchanged in Retirement, The Continuing Challenges to Women’s Financial Future.
Key points in the report showed:
- Widowed women are twice as likely to be living in poverty than their male counterparts.
- White and black women are almost twice as likely to be living in poverty than their male counterparts during retirement.
- The median value in women’s Defined Contribution (pension) retirement accounts was one-third less than that of men.
- Women who are widowed, divorced, and over age 70 rely on Social Security benefits for a majority of their income.
- Black women rely largely on Social Security, while women of other ethnic groups also rely on wages to a large extent.
The report suggested several recommendations to help change the balance for women in retirement:
- Strengthening Social Security benefits for women.
- Increasing retirement plan coverage through auto-enrollment in individual retirement accounts (auto-IRA).
- Expanding utilization of the Saver’s Credit.
- Increased development of state-sponsored savings plans.
- Increasing defined contribution plan eligibility for part-time workers.
- Providing spousal protections in defined contribution accounts.
- Expanding defined benefit pension plans.
Women face a more difficult time saving for and earning retirement than men.
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