Your golden years might be a little less golden if you’re a woman.
In its 2016 study “Shortchanged in Retirement,” The National Institute on Retirement Security explored financial hardships facing employed women, women approaching retirement and retired women. Co-authored by Manager of Research Jennifer Brown, the study identified that women are much more likely to face poverty in retirement than their male counterparts.
The analysis attributes the gender disparity to what it calls the dysfunctional “three-legged stool” of middle-class retirement: social security, a pension and personal retirement savings. “After decades of restructuring in retirement benefits and stagnant household incomes, this three-legged stool is broken, especially for women,” report the authors. “Women are 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older.”
Relying on those three traditional sources of retirement income still leaves many women struggling. Women’s higher likelihood of part-time employment, higher rates of caregiving, longer lives and the wage gap—women earn around 80% of what men earn, according to 2016 census data—are all cited as culprits in the financial plight of retiring women.
Here are three key findings from the study:
- More women are working as they approach retirement. The percentage of women age 55-64 in the workforce increased from 53% in 2000 to 59% in 2015, hitting a high of 61% in 2010.
- There’s a glaring gender gap when it comes to retirement security. In 2013, women were 80 percent more likely than men to face poverty in retirement.
- Women’s varying backgrounds can impact financial stability in retirement. Factors like age, marital status and race can all impact the financial circumstances of retired women. For example, the gap widens as retirees age: women age 75 to 79 are three times more likely to be impoverished than men.
The NIRS, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, advocates for public policies that strengthen financial security for retired Americans—especially those most susceptible to poverty—like enhancing social security for women and improving state-funded savings programs.
To see retirement tips from Brown, who co-authored this study, explore Retirement Checkup, a feature that helps you pinpoint your retirement readiness and offers expert insight on how to improve your savings.
Sources: The National Institute on Retirement Security, Bureau of Labor Statistics