What if I told you that retired women are almost twice as likely to live in poverty compared to men. The reasons for this begin with different genes that set men and women on different life paths. Women are often the caretakers for their children and their parents. This experience can dramatically enrich the lives of those cared for. But, both of these situations mean less employment, less savings, and less social security. “On average, women work 12 years less than men do over the course of their careers.(1)” The above chart reveals the financial result for 2012.
We are all aware of the historical gender wage gap for the same position. This gap is estimated to be anywhere from 76 to 80 cents of what a man earns. This difference may be slowly closing, but equality still looks a couple of generations away. So, thats not going to help us right now.
CNN Money(1) reports that, “Female workers make up about two-thirds of all part-time employees.” The problem with this is that health insurance and others benefits don’t kick in for part-timers. Working part-time also means less goes into your savings and for social security benefits.
Medical expenses for women are expected to higher throughout each life stage. The bottom line from many studies is that, for various reasons, women just need to see the doctor more often which ends up costing more. This is partly because women have different needs and partly because of being more alert and concerned about resolving medical issues than men.
The lifestyle needs for women are more complicated and expensive than for men. Women spend more on hygienic and cosmetic items that men don’t need or want. Men can get away with letting their appearance slip, but that doesn’t work for most women. A decent appearance is important whether you are retired or not.
I also believe that your relationship with money becomes a factor. Women do not put finance and investing at the forefront of their lives since they view other things as more important. Women also tend to not talk to other women about the pursuit or accumulation of money. So, as women focus on areas of their life they feel are more enjoyable, like family and friends, investing often takes a back seat.
So, the factors working against many women are less lifetime employment, the gender wage gap, part-time work, medical needs, lifestyle expense, and a tentative relationship with money. As a result of the above and probably other factors, women are almost twice as likely to reside in poverty in retirement. In my next article, I’ll discuss what to do about it: http://blog.creativeretirementforwomen.com/how-to-spend-less/. Lee Johnson
(1)Hicken, M. “Why many retired women live in poverty” 5-13-14. CNN Money. Retrieved on 6-3-15 from http://money.cnn.com/2014/05/13/retirement/retirement-women/?iid=EL