Why older women face greater financial hardship than older men
After a gray divorce, women’s standard of living fell 45%, Dr Lin and his co-author found, while men’s fell only 21%. Repartnering, whether through remarriage or cohabitation, has helped older divorced women regain their financial health, but only 22 percent of women re-union, compared with 37 percent men. (In Ms. Palazzo’s case: “It won’t happen.”)
Changes in social security eligibility and benefits could reduce some of this injustice. The allowance for a divorced spouse, for example, is half of what a widowed spouse can claim. The caregiver credits could partially compensate for years spent raising children or caring for the elderly.
“The ground rules were written in the 1930s,” said Dr. Rutledge. “They don’t recognize the increase in female employment. They don’t recognize that people don’t stay married for good. Mandatory retirement savings programs (Australia has one) would also help workers whose employers do not offer them.
It is possible to see progress in these models. “It is good news that women work and live independently, becoming independent economic actors,” said Teresa Ghilarducci, economist at The New School, noting that younger women are closing the gender gap in matters of income and savings.
But many women who are currently approaching retirement can struggle, especially if they are single like Ms. Hartt. She now lives frugally on a Social Security benefit of $ 2,500 per month. She drives a leaky 2001 Nissan that she can’t replace when she dies. “Because I have no family and no savings, what worries me is if I become disabled, physically or mentally,” she said.
A stroke of luck: In September 2020, she moved into a cozy apartment in a subsidized Section 8 housing complex in New Haven, for the elderly and people with disabilities. The rent is $ 670 per month, charges included.
“I feel safe,” she said. “I am in a kind of peace.” And because she hasn’t completely stifled her optimism, she buys a few lottery tickets every week.