One potential change to Social Security rules that could reduce that pressure on women: Caregiver credits, according to the Center for Retirement Research.
The idea is not new. Caregiver credits are available to citizens of other parts of the world, including the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany.
The credits could work one of two ways, according to Eschtruth. They could take away the years when a caregiver earned zero out of the equation, thus bringing the average for their highest earning years higher.
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Or the individual could receive a straight wage credit, where money that the individual did not technically make would be factored into those calculations to compensate them for caregiving.
So far, proposals for caregiving credits have mostly stayed on the periphery of policy debates, according to Eschtruth.
“The real issue is the extent to which the country’s major social insurance program, Social Security, takes into account the changing labor force and marital patterns … and whether motherhood or fatherhood is expressly valued,” Eschtruth said.