Older women in Hawaii 57% more likely to live in poverty than older men

June 15, 2017, University of Hawaii at Manoa

A new analysis finds that Social Security benefits are especially crucial for older women in Hawaiʻi, who are more likely to live in poverty and less likely to have access to assets or savings in retirement. The report, released by the Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, is a first in examining more closely the economic status of older adults in Hawaiʻi by gender and race/ethnicity.

Just over nine percent (9.1 percent) of older women in Hawaiʻi live in poverty, compared with 5.8 percent of . Single older women in Hawaiʻi, however, are three times more likely than married older women to be living in poverty (13.0 percent and 4.1 percent poverty rates, respectively). The majority of older women in Hawaiʻi are single, while the majority of older men are married. There are also differences by race/ethnicity: Rates of pension coverage are highest among older Japanese women and lowest among older Filipinas, and rates of marriage also vary, with Filipinas most likely and Native Hawaiian women least likely to be married.

"Many of the economic challenges that older women experience stem from inequities that women face earlier in life, including a persistent wage gap, the high cost of child care and a shortage of affordable housing. This builds up over the course of a lifetime and limits women's ability to lay the foundation for economic security in retirement, especially for the many older single women living without a spouse," said Dr. Colette Browne, the Richard S. and T. Rose Takasaki Endowed Professor in Social Policy at the School of Social Work and author of the report's recommendations.

The paper finds that Social Security is the most common source of income for both older men and women in Hawaiʻi, and is especially crucial for women. In Hawaiʻi, nearly 40 percent (39.4 percent) of older women's annual income is from Social Security, compared with 29 percent of older men's. Still, Social Security benefits received by older women in Hawaiʻi total about 80 percent of the amount older men receive ($12,000, compared with $15,158).

Older men have greater access to pensions, retirement savings and asset income than older women. Nearly half (47 percent) of older men receive income from a pension or retirement savings plan, compared with just over a third (35.5 percent) of older women in the state. Even for those with a pension or retirement savings plan, women's median annual income is about 60 percent of men's ($12,596 compared with $21,344).

The report concludes with recommendations for Hawaiʻi policymakers to focus on strategies and programs that alleviate age-, gender- and race-based inequalities and poverty across the lifespan.

Strategies to address inequity and support the health, educational and employment aspirations of women of every age in Hawaiʻi, coupled with policies that support women with child and elder caregiving responsibilities, such as paid sick days, paid family leave and an affordable and secure long-term care funding mechanism, would bolster women's financial security throughout their life course and especially in their later years.

"Today's younger woman is tomorrow's older woman, so improving the economic status of older women in Hawaiʻi must start with addressing inequality at school, work and home," said Browne. "But, we must also pay attention to the needs of today, and this means honoring women's contributions to family and community, protecting Social Security and committing ourselves to funding for health and long-term care if and when disabilities occur.

Explore further: Older married couples and advance directives

More information: The Economic Security of Older Women and Men in Hawaii. iwpr.org/publications/economic … er-women-men-hawaii/

Related Stories

Older married couples and advance directives

June 6, 2017
Advance directives (ADs) are legal documents you can use to state in advance what medical treatments you do or do not wish to have under certain circumstances. You also can use an AD to name one or more people to act on your ...

Report: Younger women battling breast cancer face more aggressive diagnoses

May 3, 2017
As the nation struggles with soaring health care costs, a new report by RTI International shows that younger women diagnosed with breast cancer face a significant treatment burden.

Older first-time mothers are also more likely to live longer

November 17, 2016
The average age of a woman giving birth for the first time has risen dramatically in the United States over the past 40 years, driven by factors like education or career. A new study by researchers at University of California ...

Recommended for you

Study compares athlete and truck driver, identical twins

July 20, 2018
When it comes to being fit, are genes or lifestyle—nature or nurture—more important? Researchers at San Francisco State University, CSU Fullerton and Cal Poly, Pomona removed the nature part of the equation by studying ...

Secondhand smoke causing thousands of still births in developing countries

July 20, 2018
The study reveals that more than 40% of all pregnant women in Pakistan are exposed to secondhand smoke—causing approximately 17,000 still births in a year.

Eating iron-fortified grain improves students' attention, memory

July 18, 2018
Adolescent students in a rural school in India who consumed an iron-biofortified version of the grain pearl millet exhibited improved attention and memory compared to those who consumed conventional pearl millet, according ...

Vaping tied to blood clots—in mice

July 18, 2018
A new study involving mice raises another concern about the danger of e-cigarettes in humans after experiments showed that short-term exposure to the device's vapors appeared to increase the risk of clot formation.

Lowering hospitals' Medicare costs proves difficult

July 18, 2018
A payment system that provides financial incentives for hospitals that reduce health-care costs for Medicare patients did not lower costs as intended, according to a new study led by Washington University School of Medicine ...

People who tan in gyms tan more often, and more addictively, than others, new research shows

July 18, 2018
Gyms are places people go to get healthier. But nearly half the gyms in the U.S. contain a potentially addictive carcinogen—tanning beds, report UConn researchers in the July 18 issue of JAMA Dermatology.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.