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Published on Nov 16, 2011
Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School
Women now receive more college degrees than men and enter the workforce with better job opportunities than ever before. So why does the typical woman have less than half of the wealth of the typical man? How is it that never-married women have only 2% as much wealth as similarly situated men? Drawing on the most comprehensive data on wealth and on in-depth interviews, Dr. Chang shows how differences in earnings, in saving and investing, and, most important, the demands of caregiving all contribute to the gender wealth gap. She argues that the current focus on equal pay and family-friendly workplace policies will not ultimately change or eliminate wealth inequalities. The "wealth escalator'—comprised of fringe benefits, the tax code, and government benefits—and the "debt anchor" must be the targets of policies aimed at strengthening women's financial resources.