With years of earning less and taking time off for caregiving, women enter retirement at a major disadvantage. That's why NCOA and the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) conducted What Women Say, two national surveys to hear from women themselves about their concerns and worries—and to understand what policy solutions they think would help. While sobering, the results provide a strong, bipartisan call to action to ensure women's lifelong financial security.

If women of all ages are finding it difficult to stay afloat today, their chances of aging with security are dim," said NCOA President and CEO Ramsey Alwin.

How women really feel about their lifelong financial security

What Women Say™: Insights and Policy Solutions for Lifelong Financial Security, conducted by the bipartisan team of Public Opinion Strategies and Lake Research Partners, demonstrates the real fears and concerns women have when it comes to being financially prepared for retirement.

Key highlights from What Women Say:

  • Just over half of women ages 25+ say they don't consider themselves financially secure, and 77% of low-income women say the same.
  • Top financial concerns for women are:
    • The cost of housing,
    • Social Security and Medicare being cut,
    • Not having enough savings to retire, and
    • Outliving savings in retirement
  • Nearly half of women report not having an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
  • Three in four low-income women by ethnicity report having no emergency savings.
  • Nearly two-thirds of low-income women say they aren't confident that they have the information they need to plan and save for retirement.
  • 90% or more of women express support for 8 of 13 potential policy solutions aimed at improving their financial security. All 13 potential policy solutions received strong bipartisan support.

Policy solutions that could help improve the finances of women as they age

The survey also asked women to express their level of support for 13 potential policy solutions that could help. 90% or more of women support eight of the solutions. These include:

  1. Make the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security benefits more accurately reflect the cost of housing and health care (94% total support)
  2. Provide a tax break to family caregivers to help cover out-of-pocket costs of providing care to a seriously ill, disabled, or elderly loved one (94% total support)
  3. Raise the minimum Social Security benefit to above the federal poverty level (92% total support)
  4. Improve access to the Supplemental Social Security Income program, which provides monthly benefits to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 and older (92% total support)
  5. Provide free educational programs to middle-aged and older adults on how to save for retirement and make the most of their Social Security benefits (91% total support)
  6. Create a new government-provided retirement plan that would allow workers whose employers do not currently provide a retirement plan to set-aside their savings tax-free until they retire and start withdrawing funds from the account (91% total support)
  7. Provide government assistance to lower income older adults to help pay for basic needs, such as food, housing, and transportation (90% total support)
  8. Create a new government program that provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave to workers who need to leave work to care for a seriously ill family member (90% total support)

What Women Say survey downloads

For more information about the two surveys, including the methodology, read the results in full below or download the quick key highlights.

If you're a member of the press and have a question about the surveys, please contact us at press@ncoa.org.