Women and Pension Reform: Economic Insecurity and Old Age
Posted: 6 Nov 2002
In her article entitled Women and Pension Reform: Economic Insecurity and Old Age, Professor Lorraine Schmall laments about the plight of women's economic security as they age. Despite all the talk about Social Security insolvency and fears of aged poverty, over the last fifteen years, the private supplemental pension coverage rates have remained fairly stable. The author observes that women make less than men during their working lives, and, therefore, have much less than men when they are too old to work. Her concern is that pension policies, practices, and laws that do not recognize and compensate for women's immutable differences perpetuate not only discrimination, but the reality of poverty for older women for generations to come.
The author reviews statistics that support the claim that wage discrimination may be rationalized based upon objective, observable differences between genders as well as discrimination against women's occupations. Her analysis reveals that future societal changes are unlikely to address adequately the immediate needs of older women. She notes important political and philosophical differences between the genders where women favor government because they rely on these programs as an important source of financial support, whereas men negatively view such programs as the primary source of higher taxes. The author makes the noted observation that women are not paid the same as men for equal work. She emphasizes that pensions have become more important, especially in light of the budgetary pressures on the Social Security System and increase in the population of older people.
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