It’s a beautiful and breezy Sunday on my deck in Galveston, Texas, as I write this. So, why can’t I kick back and enjoy it?
Because I just read an article in Time magazine, “The Next Social Security Crisis – Why American women are bearing the brunt of the retirement crunch.” As a marketer and a supporter of homeless women, I find many reasons for concern – especially when considering the fact that over 5,000 women turn 65 every day in the U.S., according to Pew Research Center.
Here are a Few of the Alarming Stats from Time Magazine.
1. One in three Boomer women is divorced or never married.
2. Half of all elderly women depend on Social Security as their only source of income.
3. On average, women 65+ received only $12,857 a year from Social Security in 2013. (Men averaged $16,590.)
4. The poverty rate for single – never married, divorced, and widowed—women age 65 and older was nearly three times what
it was for married women.
And when you segment by race, the stats get even worse for African American and Hispanic women.
Single Women Ages 65+ Living in Poverty
Whites: One in six
African Americans: One in three
Hispanics: One in two
What Businesses Can Benefit from These Staggering Stats?
Very few! With little to no disposable income, most companies will be hard-pressed to “sell stuff” to single Boomer women over 65 years old. The only businesses I could think of depend on the government as the primary payor – Medicare Advantage insurers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacies, hospitals, home health and nursing homes.
What is the Social Price?
It’s huge! When you must live on $12,857 per year, life is all about sacrificing. Paying for food, housing and utilities can be overwhelming. If you have a serious illness, like cancer, you could lose everything. This is sad and unacceptable. Unfortunately, poverty continues to send women and families into economic chaos.
I’ve seen the devastating consequences of financial restraints up close, having served on the board of a Christian-based homeless shelter for single women and children, for 25 years in Houston, Texas. They receive no government funding. In the last few years, Houston saw the highest job growth in the country. Yet, we were still forced to turn away over 600 women over 50 years of age in the last year because we didn't have room for them. I can only imagine the strain put on less prosperous cities across the U.S.
Another non-profit, Meals-on-Wheels, serves its 60+ population by delivering meals to the home-bound. They recently started the “aniMeals on Wheels” program (food for pets) to combat the problem of needy clients sharing their limited food and resources with their four-legged friends.
What Are the Implications for Marketers?
According to the Time article, the number of women ages 50-59 who are ineligible for spousal or survivor benefits is growing. In 1990, it was 8%. In 2009, it was 16%.
As marketers of products and services, it makes little sense to target 65+ single Boomer with anything beyond basic necessities. They do not have disposable income. However, we cannot forget them from a social standpoint.
What Can We Do?
1. Support changing legislation around improving social security payouts in the coming years.
2. Encourage your aging female friends and neighbors to build savings. Most Boomer women haven’t saved enough for retirement. In fact, American women save far less for retirement than their male peers, according to a 2015 study by asset management firm BlackRock.
3. Support homeless shelters and other non-profit organizations that act as safety nets for some of our most vulnerable and poor Americans – single, aging boomer women.