Security in old age for older single women without children
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Australia's population is ageing. Women are much more likely than men to live in poverty in old age, especially single women (AHRC, 2010). Improving the economic security of single older women is a policy priority. It is also an important objective for financial advisors. Most research into the reasons behind single older women’s economic insecurity focuses on the ‘motherhood penalty’: the effects of having and rearing children on labour market participation, incomes and retirement incomes. In Australia, however, 16 per cent of women do not have children (Koropeckyj-Cox & Call 2007) and this proportion is growing. Little is known about older single women who do not have children, including how they are faring leading up to and after retirement and to what extent, when children are removed from the equation, gender inequalities persist. This report presents the results of new research, providing a detailed picture of what shapes the financial security and wellbeing of older single women without children (whom for the purposes of this project we will call older SWWC). Funded by CPA Australia, the research asks: How are older SWWC faring in employment, superannuation, housing and aged care? How does this compare with other gender and relationship groups? How can public policies support SWWC to obtain financial security in later life? How can accountants/financial advisors support SWWC to navigate these systems? To answer these questions, the report draws on a review of national legislation, analysis of Australia’s Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey, an online community with 45 older SWWC, and interviews with 10 financial stakeholders (i.e. financial advisors and housing specialists). Findings will inform policy and practice of governments and the financial services sector.
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