Longevity Adds to Women’s Financial Strain


Occasionally I come across articles that are worth passing along. Kudos to Forbes.com for sharing financial advisor Wayne Fourman’s insight on the compounding issues facing the fairer sex. I have written about the gender pay gap and how marriage roles often derail a woman’s ability advance in her career field.

The financial strain that women endure is exacerbated by their longevity. Not only do women earn 78 percent of what their full-time male counterparts bring in, but women also live several years longer, which often leads to higher nursing care costs. Two items that Fourman discusses are especially troubling: (1) a single woman over 65 is five times as likely as a married couple the same age to fall into poverty; and (2) nearly half of single women rely on Social Security to provide 90 percent of their retirement income.

Those figures are disturbing. While it’s reassuring that women’s rights have progressed to the point that many Generation Xers and millennials have flooded higher education and put themselves in position to earn considerable salaries and chip away at the ever-present glass ceiling, the women of the baby boomer generation, as a whole, do not share the same optimism. According to the White House, only 15 percent of women between the ages of 25-34 had at least a bachelor’s degree in 1974. That number had jumped to almost 40 percent by 2014. The lack of an advanced education makes alleviating financial strain difficult, as most high-income jobs require such degrees.

Financial literacy thereby becomes critical in saving money to complement Social Security checks and understand the basics of monetary discipline. There is hope for our daughters, but we have to put forth the effort to help the women of the older generations live the final years of their lives with dignity.