Even before the pandemic, women of color and women more generally faced greater risk of economic insecurity throughout their lives. This risk persists for older women, in part because these trends culminate in lower levels of retirement savings—which is doubly unfortunate because women, who live longer on average than men, need more, rather than fewer, retirement savings to ensure a secure retirement.
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the financial security of women, and especially women of color, which will have reverberating effects on their retirement savings. Women may also have dipped into any savings they have, including retirement savings, which they may have difficulty replenishing. While some women will be able to rejoin the labor force once school starts again and child care providers slowly reopen, others who have lost their jobs may be unable to quickly find a new one. Some may even be forced into retirement earlier than planned, which will lock them into lower Social Security and pension benefits for life, and forestall additional retirement savings.
As we contemplate the policies underlying an equitable economic recovery, we need to ensure that women, and especially women of color, can experience greater economic security and build towards a secure retirement.