“Women have, for a long time, been more worried about retirement security, in part because they’re more worried about being on their own,” says Celinda Lake, a veteran Democratic pollster. In the U.S., on average, women live five years longer than men, according to life expectancy data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Social Security is “of exceptional importance,” says Jean Nofles, 78, of Denver. “It’s a right. It’s something that we have earned, and I hate to see it being played with. Too many older people have that as their sole source of income.”
According to an October report by the New School’s Retirement Equity Lab, older women have faced higher rates of job loss than older men since the beginning of the pandemic. During each month between April and September, the report states, women were 38 percent more likely than men to become unemployed.
The coronavirus has added an extra layer of concern for older women already worried about being able to afford to retire, LeaMond said at a forum on older voters that AARP sponsored this week with The Hill newspaper. Women, she said, are not only “being paid less in jobs than their male counterparts” but also are often the ones in the family who take more time out of the workforce to care for children or parents.
AARP’s polls reflect women’s economic concerns. When it comes to fears about Social Security, women are more worried than men about benefits being cut: 78 percent versus 64 percent in Arizona; 80 percent versus 61 percent in Wisconsin. Women are also more anxious about being able to afford to retire. In Michigan, 84 percent of women reported being worried, compared with 60 percent of men; in Wisconsin, it’s 63 percent of women versus 50 percent of men.