Broker Check

Women and Finances

  • Of the 62 million wage and salaried women (age 21-64) working in the United States, only 45% participate in a retirement plan.
  • Women are more likely to work in part-time jobs that don’t qualify for a retirement plan. In 2009, 24 percent of employed women (aged 20 and older) worked part time, compared to 11 percent of men.
  • Almost 30% of non-married women aged 65 or older are poor or near poor. This is compared to only 21% of non-married men in the same age group.
  • At age 65 or older, 95 percent of men and women have married at least once; however, at these older ages, three times as many women (41%) as men (13%) are widowed. Women who live alone have the lowest median income of any type of household. In 2009, among those 65 and older, 44 percent of women were married, compared to 74 percent of men. As marital status does impact median income, particularly in those amongst the over 65 age group, we can see why retirement planning is especially important for women.
  • Women, on average, earn 76% of what men earn, resulting in an average lifetime earnings differential of $250,000.
  • The U.S. entitlement retirement program, Social Security, is based on earnings made in one’s lifetime. Women not only earn less than men, on average, but they also leave the workforce for an average of 12 years to care for children or relatives. This reduces their Social Security benefits upon retirement.
  • Women live, on average, five to seven years longer than men (depending on when they were born). Their money has to stretch longer, and if they are married, it is important to note that some of the biggest health care costs are incurred in the year prior to death, so if they survive their husbands, it is possible that their financial resources may be reduced by medical expenses. Married women tend to suffer significant losses in income when their spouse dies.
  • A couple must have been married for ten years before an ex can claim spousal Social Security benefits, but most divorces happen within the first seven years. This could be a contributing factor as to why older women live in poverty.
  • On average, women invest more conservatively than men. Over the long run, this can result in lower returns and more of a risk of your assets not keeping pace with inflation.