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The Retirement Gender Gap


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Income Disparities Create Retirement Shortfalls for Women

reverse mortgage newsWhile much political attention has been given to the income gap between men and women there is another sobering fact: women aged 65 or older are 80% more likely to find themselves impoverished in retirement than their male counterparts. While the retirement crisis reaches across the gender divide it is especially damaging for women. One contributing factor is that women typically live longer than men and thus will require a larger nest egg to support retirement says Diane Oakley, executive director of the National Institute on Retirement Security who penned the report.

“Shortchanged in Retirement, The Continuing “Challenges to Women’s Financial Future” outlines the specific hurdles women face and how the gender gap may further stymie women’s ability to plan for retirement. “Women are financially disadvantaged because we still earn less than men and we typically take time out of our careers for caregiving- both which reduce our ability to prepare for retirement,” writes Oakley in a written statement on the report.


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  1. There are both deep philosophical and social issues involved in these stats. Are the stats real? No doubt.

    In the context of seniors, most income is not being earned but previously earned. Defined benefit plan benefit distributions, and defined contribution plan account balances are generally based on income previously earned. So if either the base compensation were lower or the hours or periods worked for an employer or industry were shorter, the amount of the benefit distribution or account balance (respectively) will be lower. Most agree that during the earlier years of today’s 65 year old woman, wages of women were stunted due to gender discrimination and periods worked shorter due to child birth and rearing and the woman in the family being the principal caregiver.

    Even Social Security is generally structured in the same way as defined benefit plans except that benefits are generally lower for higher earnings.

    As equal wages for equal work takes hold and is reflected more and more in Social Security, defined benefit and contribution plans, some of the current problem will begin to correct itself for future retired women.

    But what about current retired women who will not benefit from current wage equalization? There is a need for government to address this situation especially with women outliving men. Retirement equalization if done through Social Security will devastate that fund. Something, however, must be done but how will that be revenue neutral? While the cost will be substantial, the effort to somehow increase retiree cash flow for women currently over 60 needs to be a high priority joint effort of the Administration and Congress.

  2. I agree with the cynic on some points. I am a woman about to turn 65 in just two weeks. And while I was mostly self employed because I usually worked on commission only jobs, many of my friends and colleagues are finding themselves in that gender gap. They relied on their husbands income and financial planning. Many of them are divorced and not in a good position to have much money in retirement. I also see this gap as a Reverse Mortgage Specialist of 11 years. The majority of my clients are single women, either divorced or widowed. Even though they are living on very small incomes, they are reluctant to do Reverse Mortgage because they want their children to benefit from the equity in the home. They are the caretakers and they want to take care of their family even at the detriment of themselves.

    • I have seen several women in about the same situation refusing to move forward believing they must keep the home because the children need everything the home will give them even if the children do not know the dire situation of the mother.

    • Happy birthday to you! The last line of your comment is sad. Maybe these children could “somehow” come across articles of how a reverse mortgage has helped a parent in need and give their mom their blessing to go forward with obtaining a reverse mortgage? 🙂

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