Soaring number of elderly U.S. women live in extreme poverty

According to the National Women's Law Center (NWLC), the number of elderly U.S. women who live in extreme poverty has spiked abruptly since the previous year. Think Progress reported that a study by the NWLC showed an 18 percent increase in the population of women over 65 who are living on less than $5,500 per year.

According to the study, in 2012, 135,000 more elder women were living in extreme poverty than in 2011, raising the national number to 733,000. Alan Pyke at Think Progress wrote, "Put another way, there are more elderly women living on $15 per day than there are residents of Detroit, Michigan."

Study author Kate Gallagher Robbins of NWLC told NBC News, "“The cause has to be something that hits elderly individuals particularly hard. We also know that poverty for elderly men and women was statistically unchanged so we are talking about a group of individuals who went from being poor to extremely poor."

Possible causes include the decline of the private pension system, and Gallagher said, “One factor might becuts in recent years to Social Security Administration funding which may be making applications for [Supplemental Security Income] more difficult."

Pike wrote, "Women are more economically vulnerable than men at all life stages. They are less likely to live in economically secure households and experience higher overall poverty rates. They are paid less than men starting from the very beginning of their careers, no matter how qualified they are or how high up the job responsibility ladder they rise. The share of job gains in the recovery from low-wage occupations was three times as high for women (60 percent) as for men (20 percent). Women are two-thirds of the entire minimum wage workforce."

[image of elderly woman via]