Longer life spans, lower wages than their male counterparts and less access to pension plans make women more vulnerable in retirement, according to a report by the Washington-based National Institute on Retirement Security.
Ilana Boivie, co-author of Shattering the Retirement Glass Ceiling: Women Need a Three-Legged Stool, said in an interview that the three-legged stool of Social Security, a 401(k) plan and a pension is necessary for women to help them maintain a secure retirement.
Although the gender gap has tightened in the past few decades, Ms. Boivie cites a 2007 study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, Washington, showing that full-time female workers make 76.2% of their male counterparts' wages.
Women also are expected to live an average three to five years longer than men, and they are less likely to have a pension upon retirement. According to a 2006 U.S. Census Bureau report, 23.3% of women have their own pension plan, compared with 42% of men.
And women's pensions are worth less than half of men's. A 2008 study by the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement, Washington, shows that the median annual pension income for women was $4,501, compared with $9,855 for men.
Ms. Boivie said pension income is important, particularly for women, because it can't be outlived, and Social Security might replace only 30% to 40% of a retiree's income.
The report also says women with a defined-contribution-only retirement are likely to fare worse than their male counterparts because of wage discrepancies and because women are more risk averse. Timothy Inklebarger