Surprising Jump in Elderly U.S. Women Living in Extreme Poverty

Tuesday, October 01, 2013
(photo: Jon Lovenstein, Felix Features)

Eking out a bare existence in the United States became noticeably more difficult last year for many elderly women, according to a new report from the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC).


The study found that the number of women age 65 and older living in extreme poverty increased by 18% from 2011 to 2012.


The statistical jump translated into 135,000 more elderly women living on less than $5,500 annually, with the total in this group reaching 733,000.


The report’s authors couldn’t say for certain what caused the unexpected jump.


Katherine Gallagher Robbins, who contributed to the report, told MSNBC: “One factor might be cuts in recent years to Social Security Administration funding which may be making applications for [Supplemental Security Income] more difficult.”


The study produced other findings on the state of American women living in poverty, including:


  • 14.5% of women lived in poverty last year, compared to 11% of men.


  • More than one in seven women, nearly 17.8 million, lived in poverty, and nearly 7.8 million of them lived in extreme poverty.


  • The poverty rates for black, Hispanic, and Native American women were more than three times higher than for white non-Hispanic men.


  • More than 40% of female-headed families with children were poor, and more than half of all poor children lived in families headed by women.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Insecure & Unequal: Poverty and Income among Women and Families, 2000-2012 (by Joan Entmacher, Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Julie Vogtman, and Lauren Frohlich, National Women’s Law Center) (pdf)

Huge Spike In Poverty Among Elderly Women Catches Analysts By Surprise (by Alan Pyke, Think Progress)

20 Million Americans Live on Less than $3,000 a Year (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


Leave a comment