Employment, Social Security, and Future Retirement Outcomes for Single Mothers

Richard W. JohnsonMelissa M. Favreault Joshua H. Goldwyn

WP#2003-14

Abstract

Employment rates for single mothers with dependent children have risen steadily in recent years, due in part to welfare reform and expansions in the Earned Income Tax Credit. This paper examines this recent increase and analyzes the implications for future retirement security. The results show that increases in employment and earnings for single mothers during the late 1990s will translate into modestly higher Social Security benefits and better retirement outcomes when they reach later life, assuming these trends persist. Despite this improvement, however, most single mothers will continue to fare worse in retirement than other women, primarily because they generally earned low wages throughout their working lives and many lack financial support from spouses.