AARP Research Shows Women Age 50+ Consistently More Economically Vulnerable Than Men

Nancy LeaMond | Mar 14, 2023


The calendar says its Equal Pay Day, but it feels more like the movie Groundhog Day when it comes to the gender pay gap and women’s economic security.

Once again, it took the average woman close to fifteen months – from January 1, 2022, to March 14, 2023 — to earn as much as her male counterpart did in twelve. And, a new report from Pew Research shows that the pay differential hasn’t changed much in the last two decades.

There will be a lot of conversations today about why the numbers are what they are and hopefully more about what can be done to change them. It’s also important to look at the long-term implications on women’s lives and how a sense of economic insecurity seeps into their thinking.

At AARP, we have conducted extensive research among Americans age 50+ in the aftermath of the 2022 midterm elections to understand the underlying concerns that drove their ballots and what that means for another major election cycle that’s right around the corner.

The data – part of our ongoing She’s the Difference research search series – paints an interesting, and concerning, story when it comes to these women and their financial security.


In short, older women consistently feel more economically vulnerable than men.

  • Less than 3 in 10 (29%) older women say they’re living comfortably, compared to 39% of men.
  • Nearly half (48%) are less financially secure than they expected to be at this stage in their lives, compared to 39% of men.
  • More women than men say they’re “very worried” about their income keeping up with costs (34% women vs. 25% men).
  • More than 3 in 5 (61%) older women are worried about their family’s financial security compared to just half of older men.
  • And the same percentage (61%) are worried about Social Security being there in their retirement, versus a little more than half (53%) of older men.


These worries are grounded in an unfortunate reality, driven by the gender pay gap and other factors.

Over the course of their lives, women tend to be paid less than men and to take more time out of the workforce to care for children and adult loved ones. Lower pay means less ability to save for the future, and lower lifetime earnings translates into lower Social Security benefits in retirement.

  • In 2021, average income for women age 50-64 was $49,000 compared to $82,000 for men age 50-64 (Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey).
  • An AARP analysis of 2019 Survey of Consumer Finance data found that the median retirement savings for near retirees (age 51-64) who have savings is $43,000 for single women vs. $80,000 for single men, and $100,000 for married women vs. $141,000 for married men.
  • The average annual Social Security benefit for women is $13,500 / year compared to $17,300 / year for men.

Considering that women on average live longer than men, the numbers simply don’t add up. That’s why it’s vitally important for elected leaders and political candidates to understand the particular needs and concerns of older women.





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