Gender, The Elderly And Retirement

Not all seniors have the same experience in their elderly years. Elderly individuals are a very diverse group. A variety of different individual characteristics of an elderly individual have the potential to have significant impacts on the types of challenges and issues they could end up facing when it comes to important things like retirement, health care and their family.

This includes their gender, as is underscored by some estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Employee Benefit Research Institute. These estimates indicate that women may have some special challenges to deal with when it comes to retirement. According to the estimates:

  • Single women who are nearing retirement have a larger projected retirement savings shortfall than single men who are nearing retirement.
  • In 2013, elderly women had a higher poverty rate than elderly men did.
  • In 2013, elderly women made up a significantly higher percentage of the elderly poor than elderly men did.

As a note, the first point comes from the Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates, while the second and third come from the U.S. Census Bureau estimates.

What is causing these trends? Things that some have pointed to as potential causes for the poverty level gap and retirement savings gap between elderly men and elderly women include differences between the genders when it comes to:

  • Wage levels.
  • Health care costs.
  • Likelihood of cutting down their workforce participation to care for loved ones.
  • Life expectancy.

What particular challenges do you think come before women when it comes to retirement? What do you think it is important for women to do when preparing for retirement?

There are many things that can have an impact on how good of a position an elderly individual is in to deal with the challenges they could face in their elderly years, such as retirement-related challenges or challenges regarding health care. One is how well-tailored their estate plan is to the challenges they are particularly likely to face. This is among the reasons why individual circumstances are so important to factor in when it comes to estate plans. Estate planning attorneys can conduct detailed reviews of an elderly individual's particular circumstances and help give them insights, based on the review, as to what sort of trust-related or other estate planning steps would be wise for their particular situation.

Source: Star Tribune, "Retirement outlook is more challenging for women," Brad Allen, August 22, 2015

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