How Does Income Inequality For Women Affect Their Retirement?

This is an academic research paper written as part of my M.S. in Personal Financial Planning degree program. It discusses how the effect of leaving and re-entering the workforce, in addition to the practice of paying women less, changes the quality of their retirement readiness.


Income inequality experienced by women restricts their ability to save for retirement, putting them at higher risk of running out of money late in life, especially unmarried women. Not only are they affected financially, but physical and emotional health can be affected as well.

By exploring income issues, retirement savings plans, income solutions and health, it will be shown that with careful planning, women can avoid the many pitfalls on the road to retirement.


This paper was written in December of 2012, which was prior to the repeal of DOMA on June 26, 2013. Despite the publishing date, many of the facts presented are entirely relevant.


“Women in America struggle with income inequality from the time they enter the workforce and are never able to make up for a low starting pay. Income inequality is partly due to the fact employers don’t value women as much as men and that women don’t negotiate their pay as aggressively as men.

During the child-bearing years, women leave the workforce for a few months or up to several years to devote time to the family. Women are the caregivers in the family and many employers are often reluctant to advance women with families for fear they will not remain dedicated to the employer. This affects the amount women are able to save throughout their careers in preparation for retirement and also reduces Social Security benefits for women.

Women have the power to reduce income inequality by asserting themselves in the workplace and negotiate better salaries from the outset. Also, women would benefit from financial literacy education to help prepare for retirement so that they aren’t relegated to poverty in their golden years. Unmarried women may also be penalized under our current tax laws with higher marginal tax rates than their married counterparts.

With financial literacy education, studying how women around the world have adapted to being a part of the workforce and planning, American women can make changes that will provide them a secure retirement.”

View the Research Paper:

Select the following link to view the Women & Wealth research paper in PDF format:

How Does Income Inequality For Women Affect Their Retirement?


Melissa Ellis earned her M.S. degree in Personal Financial Planning from the University of Missouri – Columbia. She is a fee-only Certified Financial Planner™ Professional, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™, and founder of Sapphire Wealth Planning LLC. Melissa enjoys helping women make sense of their finances when faced with a major transition in life such as divorce, career advancement or sending kids to college.
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