Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



2020 Elder Index, economic insecurity, retirement security, older women, gender gap


Demography, Population, and Ecology | Gerontology | Public Policy | Social Welfare


New estimates from the 2020 Elder Index illustrate the elevated risk of economic insecurity experienced by older women, especially those living alone. We compare annual household incomes to the Elder Index for adults aged 65 years or older living in one- and two-person households to calculate the percentage of older adults with annual incomes that do not support economic security. National averages suggest that 54% of older women living alone, along with 45% of older men living alone, have annual incomes below the Elder Index. In addition, 24% of older adults living in couple households have annual incomes below the Elder Index. The gender gap in economic security is especially high in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest. The relative disadvantage of living alone compared to living in a coupled household is higher for women than men. Women who are age 85 or older and women of color are at especially high risk of economic insecurity. These findings highlight the sizable impact of gender inequality throughout the life course on retirement security.

Community Engaged/Serving

Part of the UMass Boston Community-Engaged Teaching, Research, and Service Series. //



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.