Makin' Money

A sliver of good news on retirement

Chris Farrell Jan 5, 2012

There’s little good to say about America’s retirement system. Many aging baby boomers have seen their 401(k)s decimated by two bear markets and two recessions in less than a decade. Benefit cuts seem inevitable (although wrong) with Social Security and Medicare. Millions and millions of low-income workers don’t have a retirement savings plan. An aging population is going to have to work well into the traditional retirement years and delay filing for Social Security as long as possible. Call it Job-tirement. 

Nevertheless, it’s underappreciated how much better one large cohort of aging boomers should do financially during the traditional retirement years: the college-educated stalwarts of the feminist movement. In this Bloomberg Businessweek article, I look into how the first generation of highly paid professional women is nearing retirement — and their path could well serve as a model for others. 

It’s the group that marked the revolutionary shift from earning money because they and their families needed it to embracing working because it defined “one’s fundamental identity and societal worth,” said Claudia Goldin, economic historian at Harvard University, in her 2006 Richard T. Ely lecture at the American Economics Assn. annual meeting. “It involved a change from ‘‘jobs’ to ‘careers.'” They’re poised to flourish in their elder years, at least compared with most everyone else.

The women’s movement is probably the most powerful social movement of the post World War II era. It’s hardly surprising that career-oriented women may define the model retirement for their social peers, male and female. 

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.