Two surveys of women ages 25 and older, commissioned by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), find that half of American women are struggling financially today, making it very difficult to plan for a secure retirement. Across demographic and party lines, women express strong bipartisan support for federal policy solutions that could help.
What Women Say™: Insights and Policy Solutions for Lifelong Financial Security asked women what they think about their financial situation now and how they feel about their future retirement. The two online surveys—conducted by the bipartisan team of Public Opinion Strategies and Lake Research Partners—also explored women’s support for 13 potential policy solutions.
“It’s sobering to see such widespread financial insecurity among women in America,” said Ramsey Alwin, NCOA President and CEO. “We know that a woman’s ability to age well starts early—not just when she retires. If women of all ages are finding it difficult to stay afloat today, their chances of aging with security are dim.”
“Women are relying on bedrock programs like Social Security when it comes to their future,” said Cindy Hounsell, WISER President. “We must protect and improve these programs to ensure they are financially prepared for a longer retirement.”
Key findings about financial insecurity
Women in the surveys were candid about their fears and concerns when it comes to their financial security.
“When asked why they do not feel financially secure, women told us they do not have enough savings, inflation has caused a lot of pain to their wallets, and they have debt,” said Bill McInturff, Partner at Public Opinion Strategies. “Living paycheck to paycheck means that if an emergency were to occur, they would be wiped out financially.”
Strong support for policy solutions
The survey also asked women to express their level of support for 13 potential policy solutions that could help. 90% of women supported eight of the solutions. These include:
“In an era of divided politics, the level of bipartisan support for these policies is quite notable,” said Celinda Lake, President, Lake Research Partners. “It speaks to the real challenges facing women across the country—and the support they need and want.”
This research was conducted online by Public Opinion Strategies and Lake Research Partners. The first survey was conducted February 10-21, 2023 among women ages 25 and older and collected 1,000 responses. The second survey was conducted March 27-April 5, 2023 among low-income women ages 25 and older and collected at least 200 responses each from white, Black, and Latina women. Both surveys asked respondents to identify if they were Republican, Independent, or Democrat. “Low-income” was defined as an individual with $25,000 in income per year ($50,000 for two or more people in a household) and retirement savings of $5,000 or less.
WISER is a nonprofit organization that works to help women, educators, and policymakers understand the important issues surrounding women’s retirement income. As the only organization to focus exclusively on the unique financial challenges that women face, WISER supports women’s opportunities to secure adequate retirement income through research, programs, and partnerships. WISER has also been the driving force behind a series of state and local events on long-term financial security aimed at leveling the playing field for women. Learn more at www.wiserwomen.org.