Women More Worried Than Men About Economic Downturn

Across the country, Americans are feeling squeezed by the slowing economy, but a study released this month reveals that women feel more worried than men about paying bills, …

Across the country, Americans are feeling squeezed by the slowing economy, but a study released this month reveals that women feel more worried than men about paying bills, job losses, providing for children and saving for retirement.

"And single moms are the hardest hit," Margot Brandenburg, associate director of the Rockefeller Foundation, said in a statement issued by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).

"First, [single mothers] have lower earnings because they’re female, and then they have more financial stress because they’re parents. Mothers are half again as likely as fathers to have to pass up buying something their child needs because they just can’t afford it," Vicky Lovell, co-author of the report, said in a statement. "And mothers face a 50 [percent] higher risk of losing their jobs than fathers."

The study comes at a time when the U.S. economy has been set back by the burst real estate market bubble, record prices for oil and gas, rising prices for food, a declining job market and plummeting consumer confidence, among other things.

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"Since the survey was conducted in 2007, we can only imagine that economic anxiety has heightened since that time," Barbara Gault, vice president and director of research at IWPR, said upon the report’s release. "As our economy gets worse, women are going to feel the pain the most."

For example, in the past year, one in five women has had a medical prescription she could not afford to fill, compared to only one in eight men who had that experience. And twice as many women as men—one in eight women compared to one in 16 men—reported not having been able to afford to take a child to the doctor, according to the study.

Nearly twice as many American women as men went hungry at some point in the past year because of lack of money. One in 14 American women went without sufficient food, while for men, it was one in 25.

"Women feel a much more palpable sense of economic anxiety than men do, both for their current circumstances and looking into the future," according to the report.

Perhaps it is because fully half of retired women depend on Social Security as a major source of income, compared to only 38 percent of retired men, or that men are much more likely than women to have access to an employment-based retirement savings plan, but 56 percent of American women are worried about the government cutting Social Security, while only 41 percent of men share that concern, according to the report.

The report also found that women of color face greater economic anxiety than do white women. "Women of color are at greatest risk of economic hardship. Five out of 10 African American women have had trouble paying bills on time. Four in 10 Hispanic women have shared this experience. Fewer than three in 10 white women have," according to the report. Further, one in four women of color are worried about being able to help support a parent financially, while only one in eight white women report having the same concern, according to the report.

The report, titled Women at Greater Risk of Economic Insecurity, used data from the Rockefeller Foundation’s American Workers Survey. IWPR then analyzed the data to draw conclusions about how gender, race, ethnicity, education level, employment status and other demographic characteristics influenced people’s feelings on the economy.


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