Insights Blog

Old Age Poverty: Single Women & Widows

December 21, 2018

The rates of elder poverty among widows and single women are higher than among couples and men.

SCEPA's Policy Note, "Old Age Poverty: Single Women & Widows & a Lack of Retirement Security," finds that poverty among single women reflects low lifetime earnings and spotty pension coverage, whereas poverty among widows results from the exhaustion of financial resources. In both cases, women will benefit from the creation of Guaranteed Retirement Accounts (GRAs), a source of independent retirement income lasting a lifetime. 

Key Findings:

• The gender pay gap is 18.7%, measured by the difference between women’s and men’s median weekly earnings.

• Larger gender gaps in Social Security retired worker benefits (20.2%) and defined contribution account balances (37.3%) reflect women’s interrupted work histories.

• Nearly 2/3 of women married at retirement will outlive their husbands by an average of 8.5 years.

• Elder poverty rates among never-married women (25.7%), divorced women (16.2%), and widows (14.2%) are higher than among married women (4.5%).