What Makes Older Women Work?

Alicia H. Munnell Natalia Jivan

WOB#1

Introduction

As the U.S. population ages, traditional sources of retirement income will likely fall short of what is needed to maintain pre-retirement living standards for many individuals. The issue of retirement security is especially important for women, because their lower wages, interrupted work histories, and role as caregivers make them especially vulnerable to old-age poverty. Even today, nearly 30 percent of single women, who represent a majority of households at older ages, are classified as poor or near-poor. Many of these women were married when they entered retirement and suffered a large drop in income when their spouse died. Part of the solution to this problem could be for women to extend their work lives. Of course, working longer requires women to be employed in the first place…