Gender disparities throughout their careers lead women to receive Social Security benefits that are, on average, 80 percent of what men receive, according to the Brookings Institution. Add in racial inequality—census data shows that Black women make 61 cents on the dollar compared to their white male colleagues—and women of color have even less of a liveable income to save for retirement. On top of that, many women of color work in industries that don’t provide them with employer-based savings plans or enough pay to save and build wealth through homeownership. And if the federal government doesn’t address those inequities, make Social Security solvent, or alleviate other expenses that deter funds from retirement savings like childcare or student loan debt, many women of color still won’t be able to pull together the resources they need to retire comfortably, if at all.
In fact, women of color are more likely to fall into poverty in retirement because they are less likely than white women to have retirement plans available through their employer, says Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, an associate professor at Boston College and research fellow at the Center for Retirement Research. It’s rare for workers to be able to save substantial amounts of money for retirement outside of those plans, creating inequality in who can save for the future, Sanzenbacher says. A 2020 Pew Research report found that while more than half of Americans (52%) have some investments in the stock market through retirement accounts, just 31% of non-Latinx Black and 28% of Latinx households own some stocks, compared to the 61% non-Latinx white households.