Washington, DC—

The Great Recession of 2007–2009 has severely


Americans’ economic wellbeing and confidence in securing a good retirement. In this time of economic uncertainty, support for the Social Security system remains strong across lines of gender, age, race/ethnicity, and political affiliation, according to a


from the

Institute for Women’s Policy Research

(IWPR) funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

“The survey shows that women more than men are worried about having enough resources to maintain their standard of living in retirement,” said Dr. Heidi Hartmann, President of IWPR and a MacArthur Fellow. “Many women and men report having dipped into their savings or retirement accounts to see them through the recession and slow recovery. Now, more than ever, we need to strengthen programs like Social Security and Medicare so that they can provide the vital support American women and their families need.”

These findings, from an IWPR/Rockefeller Survey of Economic Security, were published in a


released today,

Retirement on the Edge: Women, Men, and Economic Insecurity After the Great Recession.

The survey finds that most Americans support the Social Security system and do not believe the program is in crisis—a perspective that is out of line with the current political debate. Very few Americans think that we spend too much on Social Security (only 12 percent of women and 16 percent of men). A majority of men and women would like to see benefits increased.

Women aged 18–44 are the most likely to say that we do not spend enough on Social Security (62 percent). The majority of voters who identify as Democrat, Republican, or independent say that Social Security should not be cut. Support for Social Security remains strong among all age groups surveyed and is even stronger among women than among men.

While a majority of Americans say they don’t mind paying Social Security taxes because of the benefits they will receive in their own retirement (74 percent of women and 69 percent of men), a higher proportion is willing to pay taxes because of the security and stability the program provides to retired Americans, the disabled, and the children and widowed spouses of deceased workers (88 percent of women and 82 percent of men).

In recognizing losses suffered by many Americans during the Great Recession, a majority of respondents said that Social Security benefits should be increased to provide a secure retirement for working Americans (61 percent of women and 54 percent of men).

Facing serious economic stress and bleak financial prospects for the future, many Americans are rethinking the shape of their retirement. Approximately seven in ten women and men not yet retired expect that they will work for pay during retirement, with a larger percentage of women than men reporting that they believe working during retirement will be financially necessary: Women (41 percent) are more likely than men (29 percent) to say they will work for pay during retirement out of necessity.

The IWPR/Rockefeller Survey of Economic Security

was administered by Precision Opinion to 2,746 adults aged 18 and older between September and November 2010. The sample for the survey was stratified to yield approximately equal numbers of white, black, and Hispanic respondents, with results weighted by American Community Survey data to reflect the non-institutional, adult population of the nation.

About the

IWPR/Rockefeller Survey


Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR)/Rockefeller Survey of Economic Security, collected in fall 2010, focused on people’s perceptions of their own economic security following the Great Recession of 2007–2009. As part of a larger project to gather information and educate the public on how to improve the economic security of older women, low-income retirees, and vulnerable Americans of working age, the survey was supported as part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Campaign for the American Worker initiative.


the Institute for Women’s Policy Research

IWPR conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies. IWPR is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that also works in affiliation with the women’s studies and public policy programs at The George Washington University.