Money worries remain for older women

Money worries remain for older women

Older women continue to dominate in lower-income jobs, according to recently released figures from the Ministry of Manpower.

More than seven in 10 of nearly 100,000 women aged 60 and above who worked last year earned less than $2,000 per month, the Labour Force Survey showed.

And while the gender wage gap in Singapore is roughly the same as that in New York or London - with women earning nearly 88 per cent of the median pay of men overall - the difference widens with age.

Being lesser educated, women over 60 who worked full-time earned a median income of $1,623 last year, well below the $3,500 monthly wage for all women and the $2,158 for older men.

Their real incomes however have risen faster than that of older men. Five years earlier, older women earned a median income of just $1,040.

"This shows that despite recent improvements in wages, too many older women here are still earning too little," pointed out gender consultant Theresa Devasahayam who has just completed a 180-page report on the challenges of older women.

It was commissioned by the International Longevity Centre Singapore, a part of the Tsao Foundation.

Older women were most likely still working or returning to work mainly because they needed the money.

"They may not have saved enough and so may still need to work," she said.

Buoyed possibly by a tight labour market, the number of women aged 60 and above who work as cleaners rose by 70 per cent to 34,100 last year, from 19,800 just five years earlier.

Tsao Foundation chairman Mary Ann Tsao acknowledged that younger women are better placed to prepare financially for old age.

But older ones are still a concern.

"It's really not enough to say the wage or savings gap has narrowed, as women actually need to have more resources than men as they live longer," said Dr Tsao.

Women also progressively outnumber men as they age. By their 80s, there are twice as many women as men. They are also more likely than men to be single, widowed or divorced.


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