How Working Women Affect Social Security Replacement Rates

The changing role of women has led to a marked decline in replacement rates. For married households, the amount of pre-retirement income replaced by Social Security depends on the labor force activity of both spouses:

  • At the high end, couples with a non-working spouse get the replacement rate from the worker's benefit and from a spousal benefit.
  • At the low end, couples with two working spouses and identical earnings get the same replacement rate as an individual worker.

This whitepaper explores the decline in replacement rates over the years as it relates to the increased labor force participation of women.

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April WuApril Yanyuan Wu joined the Center’s staff in July 2010. She earned her Ph.D. in Public Policy at the University of Chicago in 2010, where her doctoral dissertation focused on the changes of economic well-being of the elderly in retirement, as well as older adults’ social program participation decisions. Dr. Wu’s research interests cover a broad area of topics in public finance and labor economics, with emphasis on the economics of aging, how government policies influence individual behavior, and poverty and inequality.