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Department of Employee Trust Funds
January 21, 2011

Financial Literacy Grant Project

The Social Security Administration recently awarded a joint grant to the Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Financial Security. The grant will fund a study of working women's patterns of saving and investment choices, specifically evaluating how best to encourage women to increase their retirement savings. The Wisconsin Deferred Compensation program (WDC) is a supplemental retirement savings program that is available to all active state and university employees, which is administered by ETF. WDC participants will be the focus of the study.

Why Study Working Women?

Women as a group save less money for retirement than men, due in part to a history of shorter work careers, lower earnings and more conservative investment choices. Among WDC participants, the average account balance among women is $15,000 less than among men.

Combined with expected longer life spans and growing rates of divorce after long marriages, lower retirement savings leave women vulnerable to living at or near poverty levels in retirement. The project scope includes data analyses, a literature review, focus group sessions and a survey. It will commence in January and is set for completion by September. Please consider participating in a survey or focus group if you are contacted by the UW Center for Financial Security. The project will provide a better understanding of WDC participants' saving and investment choices, and will be used by the WDC to help women increase their retirement savings through the WDC.


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