Remembering Lois B. Shaw

Many of you will remember Lois, who was an early member of IAFFE and attended many annual conferences.  She also was a guest editor, along with Nancy Folbre and Agneta Stark, of a Feminist Economics issue on Gender and Aging (July 2005). I am sorry to report that her daughter, Rachel Shaw, let me know last week that Lois passed away on September 10. Her husband Dick predeceased her last year. Lois and Dick had four children, and Lois spent many years as their primary caregiver.  She said it was reading Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique that changed her life and led her to resume her education and earn a doctorate in economics (she had graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California at Berkeley).

Lois spent much of her career as an economist doing research on women’s employment issues, including women’s retirement and the impact of the US Social Security system on reducing poverty among older women. After receiving her PhD in economics from the University of Michigan, she worked on developing the National Longitudinal Surveys at Ohio State University.  She lived in the Washington, DC, area for several decades, working at and retiring from the US General Accounting Office (now called the Government Accountability Office).  After retirement, she joined the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, where she worked on many studies over the years, often but not always on older women.  Until just a few years ago, she was still serving as a peer reviewer of our work before publication.   

Lois was always active on policy issues and she was also a founding member of a small-DC based volunteer group called the Economists’ Policy Group on Women’s Issues, chaired by Barbara Bergmann and myself.  The highlight of our activities was ranking the presidential candidates in the 1992 election on their stance on women’s issues; as one of the first such efforts by a group of economists, it got quite a lot of media play! Lois devoted the same thorough scholarship to uncovering the candidates’ policy positions (before the internet) as she did to all her professional work.

Those of you who knew and worked with Lois might like to send a note to:

Rachel Shaw, 12904 Ardennes Avenue, Rockville, Maryland, 20851, USA

Or an email to Rachel at

A memorial service will be held for Lois on Saturday, November 12, at 11:00 the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation of Rockville, 100 Welsh Park Drive, Rockville, Maryland, USA.

With sadness but with fond memories of Lois,


Heidi Hartmann, President
Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Washington, DC 20036 USA

See Washington Post obituary at