Market Overview

Single Women, 45-65, are Aging Into Poverty as Wealth Gap Persists Throughout Lifetime Regardless of Education


NEW YORK, Nov. 29, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- A new report produced by Asset Funders Network (AFN), in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Policy & Practice and Closing the Women's Wealth Gap (CWWG), reveals that the economic fragility of single women 45-65 years of age is growing due to systemic barriers which limit their opportunities to build and preserve their wealth.

Single Women Fight Financial Insecurity

The report, On Shaky Ground: Stabilizing the Financial Security of Single Women, is the first in a series that builds off AFN's 2015 publication, Women & Wealth, that explores how the gender wealth gap impacts women.

Why the focus on single women 45-65 years of age?

This is the first generation to benefit from expanded access to higher education, credit and other asset-building opportunities originating from the policy changes resulting from the civil rights and women's movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Yet this progress belies the fact that 15 million single women within this cohort – particularly Black and Latina women – have experienced substantial wealth loss in the last two decades.  

In fact, at the median, single women in this cohort lost 36% of their wealth between 1995 and 2016, with a 28% drop for White women and a 74% for Black women from 2007 to 2016.

On Shaky Ground illustrates how the women's wealth gap is exacerbated by the racial wealth gap and explores the causes, which go far beyond the pay gap. It explains how the wealth gap is compounded by imbalances in the tax code, the structure of employer-based benefits, the Social Security system, and market-based products and services. This new report speaks to how the wealth gap is impacting current generations and threatening the financial security of future generations.

"On Shaky Ground narrows the lens to examine the systemic barriers keeping women from having the opportunity that men have to build wealth over their life course and to pass along this wealth to future generations.  Because of these barriers, our economy, our communities and families suffer instability and lost wealth," said Joseph A. Antolín, AFN Executive Director.

On Shaky Ground identifies six problem drivers that contribute to the growing wealth gaps for single women.

  1. Legacy of racial and sexual discrimination in credit and lending markets
  2. Gender inequities in homeownership
  3. Gender bias in retirement tools and erosion of financial protections
  4. Structural gender inequality
  5. Ineligibility for employer-based retirement plans
  6. Limited financial capability

On Shaky Ground identifies the barriers facing single women aged 45-65 yrs. and provides philanthropic investors with strategies that cut across interconnected challenges.

While the economic fragility of women is threatening to families, communities and the national economy, this new report provides investors an opportunity to influence and develop individual, community, and systemic interventions by supporting the single women who function as the financial backbone of their families and neighborhoods.

Jennifer Farland,, AFN, 202-297-1261
Heather McCulloch,, CWWG, 415-378-6703

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