Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 2 » Gender - Sex Ratios, Life Expectancy And Death Rates, Economic Status And Retirement, Marital Status, Living Arrangements, And Social Support

Gender - Economic Status And Retirement

age social differences women five percent income

Men enjoy an economic advantage over women, and older men are no exception. Older men have completed more years of school, are more likely to be in the labor force, and are less likely to be living in poverty than older women. Table 2 shows economic activity rates for older women and men. The economic activity rate is the percentage of people who are engaged in paid activities or are available to work in such activities. In every region, older men are more likely to be economically active than older women. However, in Europe, Canada, the United States, and central Asia, participation rates are low for both men and women. In contrast, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest activity rates for both women and men. Finally, large gender differences in activity among older individuals exist in western Asia, northern Africa, and Central America.

In the United States, labor-force participation rates peak at 93.2 percent for men twenty-five to thirty-four years old while women's participation rates peak at 77.1 percent for thirty-five to forty-four year olds. Between ages fifty-five and sixty-five, men's labor force participation rates drop to 68.1 percent and women's rates fall to 51.2 percent. Finally, those sixty-five years old and older have low rates of participation. Still, men are almost twice as likely to be in the labor force at this age (16.5 percent versus 8.6 percent).

Of those with an income, men have higher incomes than women. When median income peaks (at forty-five to fifty-four years old), women are making 55 percent of what men make. Both men's and women's median income decreases at older ages, though women's decreases faster initially. The big drop in men's median income occurs after age sixty-four. In 1998, men age sixty-five and older earned a median income of $18,166, while the median income for women age sixty-five and older was only $10,504. Related to their lower income, 13 percent of women age sixty-five and older live below the poverty level, compared to 7 percent of their male counterparts.

Among those who are employed, women and men tend to retire at similar ages, with the median age being around sixty-three for both women and men. Often, retirement is hastened by the retirement of one's spouse, though this reason is cited more often by women. An exception is when wives are not employed during the child-rearing years. These wives often retire later than their husbands, perhaps making up for time spent out of the labor force. Husbands also retire faster when they have Social Security income or a pension. On the other hand, wives retire faster when their husbands' income is high. Women's economic well-being does tend to be more influenced by their husbands than vice versa. For example, widowhood is more likely to increase poverty for women than for men. In fact, a man's economic well-being may actually improve when his wife dies.

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