North America

Elderly US women poverty increased last year


The number of elderly American women who live in extreme poverty increased by 18 percent last year compared with one year earlier, according to a study by the National Women’s Law Center.

The study said that there were 135,000 more women over the age of 65 living on less than $5,500 per year in 2012 than in 2011, pushing the total size of that group to 733,000, Think Progress reported.

“Put another way, there are more elderly women living on $15 per day than there are residents of Detroit, Michigan,” Alan Pyke at Think Progress wrote.

“Women are more economically vulnerable than men at all life stages. They are less likely to live in economically secure households and experience higher overall poverty rates. They are paid less than men starting from the very beginning of their careers, no matter how qualified they are or how high up the job responsibility ladder they rise. The share of job gains in the recovery from low-wage occupations was three times as high for women (60 percent) as for men (20 percent). Women are two-thirds of the entire minimum wage workforce,” Pyke added.

Study author Kate Gallagher Robbins also explained about the rate of poverty among elderly women.

“The cause has to be something that hits elderly individuals particularly hard. We also know that poverty for elderly men and women was statistically unchanged so we are talking about a group of individuals who went from being poor to extremely poor,” she told NBC News.

Gallagher said possible causes include the decline of the private pension system.

“One factor might be cuts in recent years to Social Security Administration funding which may be making applications for [Supplemental Security Income] more difficult,” she said.

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