Millennial women, beware. Although your mothers and grandmothers may have made swift strides in health, well-being and economic equality compared to their predecessors, you are actually regressing.
And it’s going to be a good trick if you can save your way into retirement — assuming you live long enough to retire at all, that is.
Hey, don’t blame the messenger. It’s according to a new study from the Population Reference Bureau, which reveals that although young boomer women racked up an impressive 66% gain in overall well-being, in comparison with their World War II-era mothers, Gen X women only progressed 2%.
And millennial women? Sorry, but you’ve actually lost a percent.
A Huffington Post report points out that, among the 14 key areas in social, economic and physical well-being that were evaluated by the study, eight actually showed “modest to moderate” improvement.
However, that wasn’t enough to outweigh the declines in the other six — some of which declined “sharply.” Even among those that improved, progress did not keep pace with gains for earlier generations of young women.
Under the current political administration, whether that improvement will continue is questionable; that could lead to further regression in times to come.
Not all the factors slowing women’s progress are within the realm of money, although quite a few are. Some are ideologically or politically driven, while others take a toll in other ways — culturally and psychologically.
“While some measures are improving, overall the index paints a picture of lost momentum,” Beth Jarosz, an author of the report, is quoted saying. Jarosz adds, “Too many women lack the resources and supportive environments they need to live healthier lives and achieve their full potential.”
Weighing down millennial women through lost progress, whether via health, political or financial issues, makes an already tough job even tougher. In the midst of the retirement crisis, those women are weighed down even further by pay, education and debt issues.
Although reports indicate that millennials are already saving for retirement, millennial women are battling handicaps that millennial men are not.
If they survive the physical losses the study identifies — and that actually means literally surviving and living long enough to retire — they still have to rise above the cultural and economic factors to come through with enough money to see them through retirement.
Sadly, as things stand, that’s less likely today than it was for the previous generation of women.
Here are the 14 factors that could keep millennial women from making it through to retirement:
14. Millennial women are more likely than in the past to overdose on drugs.
Women are still less likely to overdose on drugs than men, but that doesn’t mean they’re untouched by the problem.
In fact, the overdose rate for women has more than quadrupled since 1999, after decades of remaining fairly constant.
While the drug overdose death rate is still lower among women than men, the rate for women has more than quadrupled since 1999–2001, rising to 12.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2013–2015.
In the current political climate, any help with drug problems is more likely to decrease than increase, and those with drug problems who manage to avoid overdosing can find it difficult, if not impossible, to find and hold a job — making it even tougher to escape the cycle.
13. They’re less likely to smoke. But…
In a good news/bad news context, the smoking rate has declined substantially among women, with just under 18% of millennial women smoking in 2014, compared with 44% of young WWII-generation women in 1965, 32% of boomer women in 1985 and 22% of Gen X women in 2000.
But women lower on the education scale, and among some ethnic/cultural groups, still smoke in substantial numbers.
The study reports that in 2015, women’s smoking rates were nearly nine times higher among women with a GED education (29.4%) compared with women with graduate degrees (3.4%).
In addition, rates in 2015 were highest among American Indian and Alaska Native women (24%) and lowest among Asian American women (3%).
Smoking rates were also considerably higher among lesbian, gay or bisexual adults than among heterosexual/straight adults (24% and 17%, respectively) in 2014.
And the rise in drug use and overdose can only be seen as an even more dangerous threat to health.
12. More likely to live in poverty.
The poverty rate among U.S. young women has increased by more than 35% in the past 15 years.
The proportion of women ages 30–34 living in poverty rose to about 17% for the millennial generation, compared with about 12% for Gen X.
11. More likely to be incarcerated.
There’s been a “dramatic” increase in women’s incarceration rates since the WWII generation.
While incarceration rates among women remain lower than those of men, the study says, the rate of increase among women has been faster, increasing even as overall crime rates have declined.
While crime levels in 2013–2015 were the same (violent crime) or lower (property crime) than in 1969–1971, 10 times more women were in prison.
Stricter sentencing guidelines and the crackdown on illegal drugs, the study reports, are key factors, as well as a direct correlation between trauma and later incarceration.
It cites a report from the White House Council on Women and Girls that says, “The most common offenses for which girls are arrested include running away and truancy. These behaviors are also the most common symptoms or outcomes of trauma and abuse. Once in the system, girls may be treated as offenders rather than girls in need of support, perpetuating a vicious cycle that is increasingly known as the “sexual-abuse-to-prison pipeline.”
10. More likely to commit suicide.
The suicide rate for women particularly white and American Indian women has increased by 43% over the past decade.
And while it’s not necessarily an indication of more attempts to commit suicide, the report finds that “young women shifted to more lethal methods of self-harm.”
The study adds that between 2004–2013, suicide rates rose the fastest in small towns and rural areas; in large metropolitan areas, increases were smaller.
9. Less likely to be a homicide statistic. But…
Fortunately, the female homicide rate has fallen in each generation since the baby boom.
The homicide death rate among women aged 25–34 was considerably higher for young women in the WWII and boomer generations—more than 6 deaths per 100,000 women—than for Gen X women (4 deaths per 100,000) and millennials (3 deaths per 100,000).
However, the study points out, “Despite falling homicide rates, wide gaps persist between racial/ethnic groups. In 2013–2015, black women ages 25 to 34 were three times more likely to be murdered than their white female peers.”
8. More likely to die from pregnancy-related causes.
The maternal mortality rate for millennial women has more than doubled since the boomer generation, a shocking rise from 7.5 deaths per 100,000 live births to 19.2.
This is in spite of scientific and medical advances and a decreasing maternal death rate worldwide. Gen X women have also experienced an increase in the maternal mortality rate.