Outdated Laws Threaten Retirement Security of Women

New Book Examines Problems Facing Modern Women; Identifies Needed Changes

DALLAS (April 26, 2006) – Pick up any newspaper or magazine and you are likely to see a story about retirement. With 77 million Baby Boomers entering their 60s, retirement in on everyone's mind. While Congress is focused on general reforms to company pensions, a new book suggests policy makers should examine federal laws and regulations that threaten the retirement security of the largest segment of retirees – women.

According to according to the soon-to-be released book Leaving Women Behind: Modern Families, Outdated Laws , the laws that govern private pensions didn't contemplate the influx of women into the labor market and therefore are not suited to the way modern women live their lives.

"Because women live longer then men, they are more likely to suffer the defects of our retirement systems. And because the laws governing private pensions weren't designed for the modern woman, many have little retirement security," said Kimberley Strassel, co-author of the book. "If reforms are not made soon, a growing number of women will be denied their 'golden years.'"

The book notes that our major economic institutions – including tax law, labor law, and employee benefits law, as well as Social Security, and retirement policies – reward families with full-time worker and a stay-at-home spouse and by comparison punish every other arrangement. For example:

  • Congress has sanctioned and subsidized company retirement plans that penalize part-time workers, as well workers who move from job-to-job and who move in and out of the labor market – characteristics more typical of women.
  • Women are more likely than men to have to save outside of the workplace where the limits on tax free savings are much more restrictive.
  • For workers who are covered under a spouse's retirement plan, federal tax law makes it almost impossible to get higher wages instead of duplicate benefits.

Leaving Women Behind: Modern Families, Outdated Laws is a forthcoming book by Kimberley Strassel, editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal; John C. Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA); and Celeste Colgan, an NCPA senior fellow. It is published by Rowman & Littlefield in cooperation with the Manhattan Institute and will be available at booksellers, including Amazon.com, this May.