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Lower lifetime earnings and longer life expectancies put women at a disadvantage when it comes to a secure retirement. One solution: helping them turn workplace retirement account balances into guaranteed income streams for life. Or in retirement-speak: annuitizing defined contribution plans. ???Women would really benefit,??? said Brigitte Madrian, Aetna AET +1.32% professor of public policy and corporate management at Harvard???s Kennedy School, speaking at Congressional hearings on ???Women???s Retirement Security??? convened by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D.-Minn.). It would help with the longevity risk women face, and with the increased risk of cognitive decline and the consequent diminished capacity to manage financial assets that comes with aging.

Even before aging sets in, many women are unprepared to manage retirement assets. Madrian said women have significantly lower scores than men when asked about financial concepts such as inflation, compound interest and diversification, and are more likely than men to answer simply: ???I don???t know.???

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