Women, mothers report greater fear about economic security
A May 2008 analysis by the Institute for Women's Policy Research finds that women and mothers are more anxious than men about their personal economic security. On issues ranging from retirement security to the risk of job loss, women reported higher rates of economic anxiety than men with similar demographic characteristics. For example, the study found that 20 percent of female college graduates reported were worried about facing economic insecurity, compared to 14 percent of men with college degrees. Overall, 39 percent of women worried about having enough money to live on, compared to 28 percent of men. "Women's unease about their finances is not simply a greater propensity to worry," the authors of the study report. "It reflects their experiences of material hardship."
Among married parents, mothers were more likely to experience economic anxiety (27 percent) than fathers (21 percent). Mothers were also a greater risk of losing their jobs (24 percent) than fathers and non-fathers (16 and 15 percent, respectively) and women without children (13 percent). Women were also more likely than men to report experiencing privation in the year prior to the survey because they could not afford to buy food (7 compared with 4 percent), health care (22 compared with 14 percent), or to fill a medical prescription (22 versus 12 percent). Twice as many women (12 percent) as men (6 percent) reported that at least once in the past year, they could not afford to take a child to the doctor. Among women, African American and Hispanic women reported greater economic anxiety and higher rates of economic hardship and privation than white women. Single mothers also reported higher rates of economic anxiety than married mothers, with 40 percent of single mothers saying that they were worried or very worried about their economic security, compared to 27 percent of married mothers.
The report includes a range of policy recommendations to reduce the increased economic vulnerability of women, people of color, and low income workers. "As a society," the authors suggest,
We should try to reduce economic vulnerability for everyone and ensure economic security in old age, health care, adequate food and shelter, and education for all, so that no one has to go without these basics. As a practical matter, to reach everyone, programs to provide income security, health care, food, and increased educational opportunities will have to be targeted to low-income people, especially parents, people of color, and single mothers.
Other recommendations include eliminating pay disparities between men and women and between people of color and whites, and helping parents "get on a more equal footing with non-parents" with greater public investment in child care, building more flexibility into workplaces, assuring working parents have access to paid medical and caregiving leave, creating more options for quality part-time work, and "leadership from the federal government on valuing care work as performed by both women and men."
Institute for Women's Policy Research
Women at Greater Rick of Economic Insecurity:
A Gender Analysis of the Rockefeller Foundation's American Worker Survey
Vicky Lovell, Heidi Hartmann, and Claudia Williams
Institute for Women's Policy Research, May 2008
Fact Sheet, 4 pages in .pddf
Full Report, 27 pages in .pdf
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