Single Older African American Women And Poverty

Civil Rights 50

Since the 1970s, the number of people over age 65 who are poor has declined dramatically—from more than one in four to fewer than one in ten today. Unfortunately, these numbers do not provide the whole picture. For single older women, the reduction in poverty has not been nearly as positive.

While the poverty rate for all women aged 65 and older is 10.7 percent—just over one in ten—the poverty rate for single women (“unrelated individual females”) is almost twice as high at 17.4 percent.

African American Women and Retirement Income: Statistics

  • By the year 2050, experts are projecting that there will be at least five times more minority women and men aged 65 and older.
  • Black women earn an average of $471,000 less than the average white man over a 35-year career.  As low-income workers, they are less likely to have access to employee benefits. (1)
  • Minority women are less likely to work in jobs covered by pensions. Eighty percent of African American women received none of their income from private pensions or annuities in 2008.(2)
  • The poverty rate for single African American women over age 65 is 32.5 percent, for single Hispanic women, 43.7 percent, while for white women, it is only 15.3 percent. (1)
  • The average Social Security retired worker benefit received by black women is only $997 monthly or $11,964 annually—well below the poverty threshold.
  • Almost half of all single older women receive less than $750 a year in asset income.

Sources: (1) Census, 2010.
             (2) Social Security Administration. Income of the Population 55 or Older, 2008. April 2010.

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