Changing Roles Essay

1673 WordsJun 5, 20147 Pages
How Does the Changing Role of Women Affect Social Security? April Yanyuan Wu Alicia H. Munnell Boston College and Nadia Karamcheva Urban Institute and Patrick Purcell Social Security Administration 14th Annual Joint Conference of the Retirement Research Consortium August 2-3, 2012 Washington, D.C. This research was supported by a grant from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) as part of the Retirement Research Consortium (RRC). The opinions and conclusions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not represent the opinions or policy of SSA, any agency of the federal government, the RRC, or Boston College. The authors would like to thank Zhenya Karamcheva and Katherine Burnham for excellent research assistance. The authors would also like to thank Barbara A. Butrica Karen Smith, and Melissa Favreault for their thoughtful comments. The general perception is that the Social Security program expanded significantly in the 1970s, and benefits today are much higher relative to pre-retirement earnings than they used to be. Indeed, the Social Security Trustees Report states that replacement rates for the medium earner rose from about 30 percent in the 1970s to 40 percent in the 1980s, where they remain today. But replacement rates for actual individuals and households depend on more than just Social Security provisions; they also depend on labor force activity and household arrangements. While an extensive literature has explored how policy changes affect the Social Security program, only a few have focused on the impacts of demographic factors – importantly, the changing role of women.1 Compared to thirty years ago, women today have higher levels of education, increased labor force participation, more stable career trajectories and higher salaries, and a higher probability of being divorced or never married. The changing role of women has

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