Last week, I launched a series simultaneously attacking and hijacking the quadrennial question: Are you better off than you were four years ago? For the first one, I reported on how women are doing economically compared to four years ago. But one of my sentences confused readers—apparently because I myself was confused. For my correction, let me simply quote what Heidi Hartmann of IWPR, one of the labor economists I cited, wrote me:
I do have a little trouble with this sentence though because I’m not sure what you were trying to get at. If I said something like this I was not very accurate:
Elderly women have fared a little better, because older people who live on Social Security haven’t lost much. They weren’t as affected by the drop in housing prices or the evaporation of pensions, since they hadn’t had jobs to begin with.
It might be better to phrase it slightly differently:
Elderly women have fared a little better, because older people who live on Social Security haven’t lost those benefits and in fact their benefits increase each year with the cost of living. Of course, those relying on income from home equity, 401K pensions, and other savings lost some of those assets and are experiencing lower returns, just as many in other age groups.
Of course Hartmann is correct. My apologies for the inaccurate phrasing.