NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

More U.S. Women Financially Insecure in Retirement

June 3, 2002

Growing numbers of American women are approaching retirement in shaky financial circumstances. Some will have to turn to public assistance, while others will try to avoid that fate and simply scrimp to make ends meet.

  • In 2000, the median personal income for women 65 and older was $10,899 -- compared to $19,168 for men.
  • For one in every four women, Social Security is the only source of income.
  • Fewer than one in five women ages 65 and older received a private pension in 2000.
  • Some 53 percent of single women ages 21 to 34 report living from paycheck to paycheck -- compared with 42 percent of single men in that age group.

Experts say the financial problems women face in retirement are often an extension of the problems and choices they faced earlier in their lives. Younger women are more likely to carry credit card debt than their male counterparts. While women have made great progress on the wage front in recent years, they still have not fully caught up to the levels earned by men.

Also, women on average spend 12 years out of the workforce for family care giving over the course of their lives, according to the Older Women's League.

Women who change jobs and get their pension savings in a lump sum are more likely than men to spend all or part of that, experts report.

Source: Albert B. Crenshaw, "Her Next Step?" Washington Post, June 2, 2002.


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