A successful self-employed consultant in New York, Laura Schooler, 51, is sometimes asked why she’s never gotten married. “I never thought someone could do better for me than I could do for myself,” she answers.
Now Schooler has proof.
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Fifty years after Title IX prohibited sex-based discrimination in education, women have made enough gains that they no longer need to get married to ensure financial security and retire comfortably, according to a new study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
Although there remains a gap in earnings, and caregiving responsibilities continue to fall disproportionately on them, women in the baby boom generation are doing as well as, or better than, men, who took a bigger financial hit during the Great Recession, the study found.
And women who have spent all or most of their lives single, on average, are as prepared for retirement as women who have spent most of their lives married.
A world apart
Decades after Title IX, “we expected to see women accumulating more wealth, with more education and higher earnings relative to prior cohorts of women,” said Laura Quinby, a senior research economist at the center and a coauthor of the study. “We were a bit surprised, though pleasantly so,” to find that women — who are getting married later, on average, and generally spending less of their lives that way — are doing so well.
It’s a world apart from what Schooler remembers about the older women she knew when she was growing up in the 1970s and ’80s.
“It may as well have been the ’50s and ’60s,” Schooler said. “Most people’s mothers stayed at home. Most people’s mothers stayed married. The neighborhood mothers were married to their husbands, and that’s whose money they relied on.”
The news isn’t all good. That stubborn pay gap under which women earn 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is among the reasons Quinby and her fellow scholars expect the progress women have made to level off.