Personal finance

Women are worried about their financial security. That may affect the 2024 presidential election

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A voter casts her ballot in the Pennsylvania primary elections at the Rockledge Fire Company in Rockledge, Pennsylvania, May 17, 2022.
Hannah Beier | Reuters

Older women are the largest bloc of swing voters — and the biggest concern they have heading into the November election is their financial security, according to the AARP.

Most women cited a higher cost of living as a top issue, according to the organization’s January poll of women ages 50 and up.

Nearly half of women surveyed — 48% — said their financial circumstances fall short of what they had expected for this point in their lives. Meanwhile, 54% said they don’t think they will have enough money to retire at their desired age.

“There is a concern that America’s best days are behind us,” said Margie Omero, a Democratic pollster and principal at public opinion research and political strategy firm GBAO who worked on the AARP poll.

Older women’s concerns are not limited to their own financial circumstances.

They also worry about how their children and grandchildren are going to fare with student loans or job market challenges, as well as the effects of rising housing costs, Omero said.

Gender pay gap leads to retirement income gap

Notably, younger women share many of those same retirement concerns, according to recent research from the National Institute on Retirement Security, or NIRS.

Of the women ages 25 and over surveyed, 76% said retirement is getting more difficult. Inflation and rising health-care costs were the top two reasons cited, though respondents also pointed to debt and fewer pensions.

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Women tend to have greater financial concerns about retirement compared with men, according to Tyler Bond, research director at NIRS.

“There’s still a persistent gender pay gap, which translates into a retirement income gap,” Bond said.

“In fact, the pay gap and the retirement income gap are almost exactly the same, which is what you would expect, because retirement income is basically a reflection of what you earn while working,” he said.

‘Women say they feel invisible’

Women hope lawmakers will address specific pain points.

“We’ve heard in a lot of these groups women say they feel invisible,” Omero said.

Many women said they wish elected officials could spend a day in their shoes, she said. AARP’s survey found 84% of women ages 50 and up want lawmakers to provide more support for seniors and caregivers.

The NIRS survey found 86% of women believe Congress should act now to shore up Social Security rather than waiting.

With a majority of women — 81% — worried about long-term care costs, many want the government to do more to help Americans access those services, NIRS found. Likewise, most women — 82% — believe all workers should have pensions.

Exactly how women’s concerns will influence their votes remains to be seen.

AARP’s poll found 43% of women 50 and up said they would vote for former President Donald Trump, while 46% said they would back President Joe Biden.

That support will likely fluctuate in the months heading to the November election, Omero said. Notably, women 50 and up are one of the largest and most reliable groups of voters, according to the AARP.

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