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Retirement & Social Security

About Retirement & Social Security

IWPR is a leading national resource on women’s income security—especially the economic security of women in retirement and the possible effects of Social Security changes on women.

Research from IWPR has shown the current Social Security program is a mainstay for women, and these findings have been supported by research from other organizations. Women are more likely to rely on Social Security because they have fewer alternative sources of income, often outlive their husbands, and are more likely to be left to rear children when their husbands die or become disabled. Moreover, due to the recession, many women have lost home equity and savings to failing markets, leaving them more economically vulnerable and dependent on Social Security benefits. Adult women are 51 percent (28 million) of all beneficiaries, including retirees, the disabled, and survivors of deceased or disabled workers. IWPR’s research shows that women aged 65 and over receive two-thirds of their income from Social Security on average. In 2009, 29 percent of older women lived on Social Security alone and the program lifted more than 14 million women and men aged 65 or older out of poverty.

In 2009, 29 percent of older women lived on Social Security alone and the program lifted more than 14 million women and men aged 65 or older out of poverty.

A 2010 survey developed by IWPR, with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, found that many Americans, especially women, felt bleak about their prospects for retirement security in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Almost half (47 percent) of all women surveyed said they had little or no confidence that their resources would last throughout their retirement years, compared with 35 percent of men. Only 25 percent of women and 35 percent of men believed they were saving enough for retirement. Especially in the recent economic crisis and slow recovery, American women and men value the support Social Security provides–to such a great extent that they do not mind paying taxes so that the program can continue to help secure the economic stability of retired persons, the disabled, and families of deceased workers.

In addition, IWPR has been working on collaborative projects to educate and mobilize women’s organizations to safeguard and strengthen the Social Security system. Working with the National Organization for Women (NOW) as co-leaders of the National Council of Women’s Organizations’ Task Force on Older Women’s Economic Security (OWES), IWPR strives to increase the participation of women’s groups in the political debate about Social Security and to disseminate accurate information about the system’s future. In May 2012, IWPR, the NOW Foundation, and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare released a report outlining recommendations for affordably modernizing Social Security, such as extending benefits to same-sex couples and increasing benefits for widows.

Resources

Women and Social Security

Social Security Media Watch Project Blog

Social Security and the Changing Economic Role of Women --PowerPoint Presentation

Visit our external resources page for links to more information on this topic.

To see our experts on this and other initiatives, click here.

Latest Reports from IWPR

Strengthening Social Security for Women--A Report from the Working Conference on Women and Social Security
by Heidi Hartmann and Catherine Hill with Lisa Witter (March 2000)

This report is from the 1999 Working Conference on Women and Social Security. It presents recommendations on how to close Social Security's projected solvency gap as well as options to strengthen Social Security for women and families.

Report, 22 pages
$7.50
Quantity:

Strengthening Social Security for Women--A Report from the Working Conference on Women and Social Security
by Heidi Hartmann and Catherine Hill with Lisa Witter (February 2000)

This report is from the 1999 Working Conference on Women and Social Security. It presents recommendations on how to close Social Security's projected solvency gap as well as options to strengthen Social Security for women and families.

Report, 22 pages
$7.50
Quantity:
Preview not available

Why Privatizing Social Security Would Hurt Women: A Response to the Cato Institute's Proposal for Individual Accounts
by Catherine Hill, Lois Shaw, Heidi Hartmann (February 2000)

 

Strengthening Social Security for Women
by Task for on Women and Social Security, National Council of Women's Organizations in Collaboration with IWPR (January 2000)

A report from the working conference on Women and Social Security.

 

Social Security Through the Years: Proposed Reforms for the System
by Carrie Apfel (June 1999)

Reviews the ways the Social Security system has and has not adapted to changes in women's and men's roles.

 
Preview not available

Social Security Reform and Women
by (June 1998)

Fact sheet; Describes women's reliance on Social Security in retirement and summarizes the likely impacts of various reforms on women.

 

The Impact of Social Security Reform on Women
by Lois Shaw, Diana Zuckerman, Heidi Hartmann (June 1998)

Based on Research on older women using the New Beneficiary Survey from the Social Security Administration, this report analyzes the likely impact of various privatization reform proposals on women. Sixty percent of Social Security beneficiaries are women and Social Security is the largets source of income for the majority of them. Available by mail in limited quantities. E-mail iwpr [at] iwpr [dot] org to place an order.

 
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