What Worries You? - October 2000

Denver Women's Commission
What Worries You? - October 2000

October 31, 2000
Prepared by Chaer Robert
For Colorado Woman News

What worries you? Have you benefited from the booming economy? What strains your finances? Is it getting easier or harder to juggle work and family responsibilities? What would you recommend to lawmakers? Would your answers to these questions differ from your relatives and friends other states? Would your answers differ from colleagues and family members much older or younger?

Professional pollsters contracted by the Center for Policy Alternatives, in conjunction with Lifetime Television and the Colorado Women's Agenda, surveyed 670 Coloradans- 400 women and 200 men, along with an specialize sampling of 70 Latinas. The random sample telephone survey has a margin of error of + or - 5% for the women, + or - 7% for the men. The Center for Policy Alternatives also conducted the survey nation-wide. Some results document obvious trends. Others are a surprise.

The top three concerns for Coloradans of both sexes are:

1. Education ( picked by 27% of women and 19% of men)

2. Moral Decline (picked by 14% of women and 17% of men)

3. Economy & Jobs (picked by 10% of women and 11% of men)

Coloradans were more concerned about education and moral decline and less concerned about the economy and jobs than people in the national survey.

Regardless of race, Colorado's women are worried about a decline in moral values, keeping their children safe, and Social Security being enough for retirement. Latinas are slightly more likely to worry about Social Security than other women are.

Many elected officials and other leaders tout Colorado's economic boom as a panacea for social concerns. The survey asked, "…Has the current economic boom reached people like you?" While men were more likely to say yes, 47% of Colorado women said yes. This surpassed the 40% of women in the national survey. Responses, however, differed dramatically by education level. Among college educated women, 55% of women agreed. Only 42% of Colorado women without college agreed. A mere 29% of retired women thought the economic boom had reached them.

"Which expense puts the largest strain on your finances?" the survey asked. Most frequently mentioned by all Colorado women were:

1. Cost of housing- 36%

2. Cost of health insurance- 20%

3. Cost of sending a child to college- 14%

On this question, age accounted for the largest differences. For those women over 60 their biggest financial strains were:

1. Cost of health insurance - 29%

2. Cost of prescription drugs- 27%

3. Cost of housing- 23%

Colorado men and women openly recognize the pervasiveness of pay inequity. People were asked if women get paid less, the same, or more than men who do the same work. Amazingly, 75% of Colorado women and 66% of Colorado men said women were paid less.

Coloradans differed dramatically from the national counterparts on the question of juggling work and family demands. Compared to four years ago 52% of Colorado women and 49% of Colorado men think the time crunch has gotten worse. Nationally, only 39% of women and 35% of men think the time crunch has gotten worse. Another surprise is the extent to which Coloradans expect they will be responsible for caring for an aging parent or another elderly person. For Colorado women, 59% expect eldercare responsibilities. For men, 58% expect such a role.

What would improve things most for their own situation? Both men and women (23%) said shorter or more flexible hours would help most. A job that pays more was the second most mentioned solution. For women, more help with housework ranked third. For men, it was working from home or starting their own business.

Colorado women's top four picks for public policy recommendations were:

1. Equal pay and benefits (82% supported)

2. Affordable health care, independent of a job (78%)

3. Portable retirement benefits ( 78%)

4. Investing public dollars in public schools (79%)

Colorado Women's Voices helps develop a perspective beyond our own situation. It can also validate our personal concerns. As a state, we are working too much, commuting too long. This takes a toll on all of us, but particularly those with caregiver responsibilities for the young or the old. Couples have double the time and about double the resources. They are faring better than other caregivers. In Colorado, the difficulty is less about finding a job, than about affording housing, health care, child care or college tuition on one (or two or three) paychecks. If the effect of an economic boom is to raise the price of housing and other living expenses, retired women on fixed incomes are at the mercy of seemingly uncontrollable expenses like housing, prescription drugs, and health care.

For more information about the report or to download a copy of the entire Colorado Women's Voices 2000 report visit the Colorado Women's Agenda at www.womensagen