However, the family wage has always been as much an ideal as a reality. Many, perhaps most, working-class families have been unable to survive on the husband's wage alone, and, as feminists pointed out many years ago, not all male workers have families, while many women have had to support dependents, including aged parents. But precisely because the wage has been seen as a family wage, women's earnings have been regarded as a 'supplement' to a husband's wage. Women are assumed to be wives, and wives are assumed to be economically dependent on their husbands, obtaining their subsistence in return for domestic service. Therefore, wages have been sexually differentiated. Women workers are paid less than men--and so an economic incentive for women to become wives is maintained. The conviction that a 'wage' is what is due to a male breadwinner, was nicely illustrated as recently as 1985 in the United States, in the claim that 'women have generally been paid less [than men] because they would work for lower wages, since they had no urgent need for more money Either they are married, or single and living at home, or doubling up with friends.'(page 138)
That in a nutshell is why women fare horribly in old age. Unless they can prostitute themselves into marriage, they are going to be starved for jettisoning that mandate.