How does gender equality affect women in retirement?

In the 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment, women have made substantial and well-publicized gains—both in absolute terms and relative to men—in educational attainment, employment, and earnings. Their status in retirement, however, has received far less attention.

Variations across individuals or groups in economic status in retirement can be traced to differences in labor market earnings, retirement saving derived from those earnings, and other factors including marital status, life expectancy, risk aversion, and financial acumen.

These factors help explain women’s resources in retirement. For a variety of reasons, women earn less on average over the course of a lifetime than men do. Lower lifetime earnings make it harder for women to save for retirement. Exacerbating these differences, women are on average longer lived, more risk averse, less financially literate, and more likely to have greater caregiving responsibilities than men.

Brookings Institute