After 50 Years of Progress, How Prepared Are Women for Retirement?

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Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity) in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

In the 50 years since the enactment of Title IX, women have made enormous strides in terms of educational attainment, work, and earnings. Although a wage gap by gender persists, women’s progress in the workforce has clearly enhanced their economic status as individuals. On the other hand, women have chosen to spend less of their adult life married, and the decision to eschew the potential support of a spouse could have put them more at risk economically.

This study uses the Health and Retirement Study to document the economic gains and the changing demographic profiles of women and then assesses the extent to which they are prepared for retirement. Since the trends in both economic gains and marriage have differed for Black and White women, the results are reported by race as well as for all women.

This review shows that women have gained in educational attainment, work force activity, and earnings, and this progress has translated into wealth. Moreover, women do not appear to have undone their economic gains since Title IX’s passage by opting to spend more time on their own – those who spend the majority of their adult life single are as well prepared for retirement as married couples.