Poverty Is A Major Problem For America's Older Mothers

Illustration for article titled Poverty Is A Major Problem For Americas Older Mothers

Women outlive men, but in their twilight years, they're much more likely to fall below the poverty line. In fact, according to the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), the largest segment of the population living in poverty is made up of elderly females. (The average Social Security benefit for women is $800 per month, compared to $1,177 for men; this is due to less time spent in the workforce overall, explains UPI.) Says Cindy Hounsell, President of WISER: "With more years out of the workforce to care for family, combined with lower wages and a greater life expectancy, it's clear that simply being a woman in our society may jeopardize your financial security." And as a second new study shows, young women — and rightfully so — are much more anxious about being able to save for retirement, pay bills, and provide for children than their male counterparts.

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Reuters reports: "Three of every 10 women were worried about their economic security, compared with two of every 10 men," according to a study funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and analyzed by the Institute for Women's Policy Research. "Two-thirds of women fear they are not saving enough for retirement, but only half of men share this concern." (Not surprisingly, single mothers and women of color are most likely to be anxious about their ability to pay bills; 48 percent of African-American women have had trouble getting their bills paid, compared to 42% of Hispanic women and 26% of white women.) Perhaps those who are late acquiring Mother's Day presents should take advice from UPI and forgo the flowers in favor of putting some hard cash in mom's IRA?

Caring For Family Can Make Women Poor [UPI]
U.S. Economic Anxiety Hits Women Harder: Study [Reuters]

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DISCUSSION

My mom took care of her retirement, and was able to retire young, at 47. She pays for health insurance, and has finished paying off for a place in an assisted living community she can move to when she wants (she'll still have to pay for her food, but the apartment itself is paid for). She also gets part of my grandpa's pension, cause to encourage people to fight in WWII, a lifetime pension when the vets died was promised not only to the widow but it would be transferable to "any unmarried daughters" (sexist, I know) in the case of the widow's death. Due to this pension, her total income is about 150% what mine and my husband's is, so she is fine.

Now, my mother-in-law I worry about. She lives on a fixed income and squanders her money, and she is 16 years older than my mom. She is always getting into debt, and my sister-in-law tends to bail her out of trouble. I'm preparing for the possibility we'll have to help, but I also don't want to enable her like my sister-in-law does, so I am only willing to contribute when she is in a controlled situation, meaning either in a home, or under the care of my sister-in-law and unable to waste money the way she currently does. I don't know.