BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

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Archive for the ‘Baby Boomers’ Category

Too Soon To Tell?

Posted by danielleac on August 4, 2011

By Danielle Corazza

After reading “Do Gen X Women Choose Work Over Kids?” I had to chuckle. Again, it seems these pundits are missing the mark by such a wide margin about women’s maternal decision make process. I don’t agree that Gen X women (roughly age 33-46) are choosing not to have children; they are instead choosing when to have children.  While I admit that my evidence is antidotal, it certainly seems to make sense to me and many of my friends.

In today’s world, where birth control, education, and advanced fertility procedures with high success rates are common knowledge and universally accessible, why would a woman begin her family before she’s had a chance to build a secure future for her potential family? There’s no rush.

If you look at the basic timeline, it all makes sense. High school graduation at 18, graduate school completion by 23 or so, internship and first job till 25, job of choice by 26, and ten years of enjoying the perks of success (read: paychecks that cover more than your basic bills!), and you’ve got a woman who  is roughly 35. Medical science says that exponential increases in birth defects due to a woman’s age do not begin till 42, while fertility peaks around 35, leaving a nice 5-7 year window for women to start their families making the statistics that the article quotes, that 53% of Gen X women are childless, true, because half of that small cohort hasn’t reached their optimum (as determine by them and not the pundits) childbearing age yet.

In addition, many Gen X women watched their mothers struggle, divided by opposing desires to work for financial gain and security, yet yearning for the choice to raise their own children. Given a different scenario and armed with the knowledge imparted by their mothers, Gen X women are doing both – waiting till they have earned enough career and financial stability to afford themselves the luxury of choice, then in some cases exiting the workforce to raise their children during their formative years (0-5), and re-entering the workforce at will.

This Generation is also faced by a very different reality than the Boomers, who commonly expected to work their 20 or 30 years and retire comfortably on their defined retirement plan after earning the gold watch. Gen X has lived through the disappearance of pensions and company retirements and are faced with the knowledge that they must work till their 401Ks can support them – for many, this means 40 plus years in the workforce. With careers of that length, a few years out may not have (and should not have) as negative an impact on careers as it once did.

All in all, I think the writer’s perspective that a woman must choose one or the other, kids or career, is far-reaching at best, although only time will tell – because Gen X still has many child-bearing years left!

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Posted in Baby Boomers, Families, Feminism, Gen X | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why Social Security Must Be Protected

Posted by egehl on July 22, 2011

The word “budget” seems to be on everyone’s mind these days, especially in the halls of Congress.

Every day there are new twists and turns to the never-ending budget and debt ceiling debacle.   The debt crisis our country faces will impact each of us as Congress makes decision to slash trillions of dollars away from vital programs and services that impact every facet of our society.  In order to address the looming federal deficit, legislators have proposed cutting social safety net programs to reduce spending. 

Programs big and small are on the chopping block, however the bigger ones such as Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare are the big goliaths that everyone is afraid of touching, but know it has to be done.  The problem is that if poor decisions are made about these important programs now it could be devastating for years to come, especially for women.

Various proposals are swirling around, and many could be quite scary for our seniors.  For example, Social Security benefits could be deeply cut by increasing the full retirement age above 67, possibly to 70, and reducing the Cost-of-living Adjustment (COLA) by switching to the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI).  Unfortunately using the “chained CPI” would cut benefits for everyone immediately and would cumulate over time, so that those who live the longest would suffer the deepest cuts.

Social Security is essential for older women’s economic well-being.  Women disproportionately depend on Social Security because their life expectancy is five years longer than men, they rely more on survivor benefits, they are less likely than men to have income from their own pensions, and because women have lower earnings on average across their lifetime they benefit from Social Security’s generous benefits to lower earners.

Women who are most economically vulnerable, including those with disabilities, live alone or have limited means, face the greatest risk as a result of these proposed cuts.  They face hurdles to gain financial stability on their own because many women cannot find employment at older ages, do not have pensions, and have been unable to save sufficiently because of wage discrimination and time taken out of the paid workforce for care-giving.

The National Council of Women’s Organizations has launched a new initiative to call on Congress to RESPECT women, PROTECT Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and REJECT any budget plans that threaten the economic security of women.  The goal of this campaign is to get the message across to key lawmakers that budget decisions should not be made at the expense of vulnerable women.

My mother is a perfect example of the critical need for Social Security.  I distinctly remember when she turned 65, a year after she was widowed and two months after Hurricane Katrina devastated my hometown, and she lost her job because of the storm.  She and I repeatedly said how thankful and lucky we were that the timing of her birthday coincided with that hard year otherwise the devastation to our home, on top of her job loss, could have put my family in financial straits.  I can’t imagine what we would have done if we had to wait another 5 years until she turned 70 for her to begin receiving benefits.

My mother stayed at home while I was growing up and didn’t starting working full-time until I was in highschool, and never made a great salary.  Therefore her Social Security benefits were fairly dismal and she was thankful she could receive my father’s benefits.  Over the past 6 years Social Security has been at the heart of my mother’s income and given her the means to stay in the home I grew up in, and have the modest lifestyle she wants and deserves.  Therefore I have seen firsthand how Social Security is truly a lifesaving foundation for older woman, and must be protected.

The reality is that our country needs to tighten its belt.  And all of us will have to make some level of sacrifice to make that happen.  However there are common sense ways to accomplish these goals without causing undue detriment to our citizens susceptible to hardship.  I just hope our leaders heed that warning.

Posted in Advocacy, Baby Boomers, Economy, Financial Security, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

To Retire or Not to Retire — Money Is The Question

Posted by sherrysaunders on August 23, 2010

We read daily about people delaying retirement and working longer not because they want to remain engaged in meaningful activities but because they financially must.  The recession has hit retirement funds hard and fewer and fewer Americans have defined retirement accounts.  I have several friends who are working longer not by choice but because they need too.  I also have friends who are at the older end of the boomer generation who are looking for work again because they need the money. And this is not a good time to be looking for work for anyone especially an older worker.    

Even if we had not faced the current recession, people are working longer because we are living longer and so we all need the extra income for those extra years we anticipate living.  According to the EBRI Retirement Readiness Rating many older Baby Boomers will run out of money in retirement, so working is truly a necessity. 

Among working adults ages 50-61, 60 percent say they might have to postpone retirement because of the recession, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center.  And 35 percent of those 62 and older say they have already delayed their retirement.  If possible staying in the job you have is a much better option than trying to find new work in a job market with few new jobs being created. 

For those seniors who have lost their job, finding a new one can be a daunting process. My friends have heard it all: they are too qualified, they don’t have the new needed skills, someone will work for less, or just not hiring now. 

While many employers value the knowledge and expertise of older workers, they often don’t want to pay for that value or because of the uncertainty of the current economic situation companies are delaying hiring at all.  The unemployment rate for workers 55 and older has jumped from 3% in the second quarter of 2008 to 7% in the second quarter this year. That adds up to about 2.1 million unemployed older Americans.

On the other hand according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2008, 3.4 million men and 2.8 million women age 65 and over — 16.8 percent of them — were still in the U.S. labor force.  This year, the estimated number has risen to 20 percent. That’s up from 15.8 percent in 1985.

With Boomers and older needing to stay in the job force for the foreseeable future, competition for jobs and the long searches necessary for older workers to land a job will remain a reality for sometime to come.

Posted in Baby Boomers, Economy, Financial Security, mature workers, Retirement | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »