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Sources of Income for Women Age 65 and Older

Older women have fewer sources of retirement income and are more likely to be poor than older men. This AARP Public Policy Institute Data Digest by Ke Bin Wu examines the poverty rates, the retirement income sources (Social Security, pensions, savings, and earnings from work), and the distribution of these sources by race/ethnic group among the older women population.

Key findings include:

  • The median income for women age 65+ in 2005 was only slightly more than one-half that of men in the same age group ($12,502 and $21,600, respectively).
  • For all women age 65+, the poverty rate was 12.3 percent in 2005. For African American and Hispanic women, the poverty rates were almost double that. More than one-quarter of older African American women and just under one quarter of older Hispanic women (25.4 percent and 22.4 percent, respectively) fell below the poverty level.
  • The dominant and, in many cases, the only source of income for women in their retirement years is Social Security. In 2005, 91.6 percent of older white women, 83.2 percent of older African American women, and almost 73.9 percent of older Hispanic women received Social Security benefits. Without Social Security benefits half of older women would be in poverty.
  • In 2005, only 27.8 percent of all women age 65+ received pension income. The proportion of older African American women and white women who received pension income was low (23.5 and 30 percent, respectively), but not nearly as low as that of older Hispanic women (11.7 percent).