Some of us have saved toward retirement, some of us collect retirement benefits as a reward for dedicating our adult lives to an organization or company, and some have been unceasingly working from paycheck to paycheck the majority of our lives and will continue to do so in our elder years. Regardless of the reason for having or not having retirement savings, according to the US Government Accountability Office, half of all households with members 55 years or older, have no retirement savings. None. 62% of these statistics are women and that percentage is increasing. This includes widowed, divorced, and never married women. It’s clear women are becoming poorer.
Why women are poorer than men
There are a number of reasons senior woman are poorer than their male counterparts:
- Women have historically had lower career earnings than men and so their retirement, based upon their income, is less as well. Women are more likely to take time out of the workforce for childbirth or care for elderly relatives.
- The Gender Gap – Women statistically earn only 79 cents to every dollar a man makes. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, this costs a woman an average accumulation of $435,049.00 over the course of her working life and impacts her retirement security.
- Women live longer than men on average, so they must stretch their retirement resources further.
- Since women live longer than men, they are more likely to outlive their resources.
- Women are becoming increasingly dependent upon Social Security Benefits.
The Shriver Center on Poverty Law states that although women experience higher poverty rates than men – by 3.8% on average – at almost every point in their lives, that gap increases substantially to 4.7% for women 65 or older compared to men of the same age. That gap increases to 7.1% once women reach age 75. In total, women comprise over two thirds of the elderly poor population and that rate has not diminished in the past five years.
What will the future hold?
The organization, Justice in Aging, has made some dire predictions for the future of our seniors and aging women in particular:
- Every day 10,000 people in America turn 65
- By 2030 there will be 72 million seniors living in poverty in America
- Homelessness among seniors is predicted to increase 33% by 2020
- The number of food insecure seniors is expected to increase 50% by 2030
Two thirds of these seniors are women. Hungry seniors are 60% more likely to experience depression, 40% more likely to experience heart failure, and 50% more likely to have a heart attack.
In spite of economic hardships faced, more elderly women are working past retirement age in an attempt to even the retirement playing field just a little bit. Unfortunately, where women made only 79 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts during their working life, once they pass 50, that gap is increased to 68 cents.