Baby Boomer Women: Secure Futures or Not?

A Summer/Fall 2007 collaborative study by the Harvard Generations Policy Program
and the Global Generations Policy Institute

Edited By Paul Hodge
Chair, Global Generations Policy Institute
Director, Harvard Generations Policy Program

“The Social Security system needs to be modernized to address the needs of the boomer generation of women and the generations of women following their path breaking footsteps.”
– Heidi Hartmann, President, Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Major FindingsArticles Summaries & Contributors’ Profiles

Baby Boomer Women: Secure Futures or Not? is a unique study because it provides answers and solutions to women planning their employment, financial, retirement, health care and housing futures. It will stimulate informed dialogue among our nation’s citizens and business, governmental, spiritual, nongovernmental and academic communities and will lead to the creation of caring, “out-of-the-box”, systems-focused, intergenerational national policies which address the critical needs of our nation’s women.

As Paul Hodge, Director of the Harvard Generations Policy Program, has observed:

Baby Boomer Women: Secure Futures or Not? is a culmination of a year of rigorous collaborative work by and among our Harvard partners and our most gifted authors. This pro bono, groundbreaking, public service venture was conceived, funded and led by GGPI as part of its Women’s Abundance Leadership Initiative.

As I have cautioned in my publications and presentations to, among others, the White House, the Aspen Institute, the World Economic Forum and recently at Oxford University:

Baby boomer women are in trouble. Unlike any other time in our nation’s history, unless there are dramatic policy shifts, in terms of absolute numbers, baby boomer women, most particularly minority women, will find their elder years to be a “never ending” struggle. After selflessly caring for their children and aging parents, a significant number of our country’s 40 million plus boomer women will not be able to afford to retire, will fall below the poverty line and experience financial insecurity and poorer health in their later years with limited aid from traditional safety nets.

Many of our boomer women will not have secure retirement futures because of diverse and interrelated demographic, social, cultural, political and economic societal factors. Almost 30 million boomer women will face uncertain employment, financial, heath care, housing and retirement futures because of gender-biased public and private sector policies.

Now is the time for our nation to recognize the singular needs of women as they age and to develop and implement public and private policies which target and address this demographic reality. In the workplace, we must update policies to reflect the changes in family structures and accommodate the compelling needs of single parenting women. We must eliminate the “glass ceiling” and age/gender discrimination policies and practices in the work place.

We must guarantee our nation’s baby boomer women and women of all ages an equal chance for capital accumulation, growth and retention in their working years and an abundant, secure and dignified quality of life in their increasingly vulnerable elder years.”