Women set to be poorer than men

// 20 October 2005

Everyone knows that women have been disadvantaged by the pensions system in the past. Two thirds of the poorest pensioners are women. But new figures reveal that we’re still not saving as much as men for our retirement, meaning women in the workforce now are set to stay poorer than men in their old age.

I can admit to being one of the 69% of women who are not saving anything (too poorly paid, not unique in my profession). But while only 31% of women put money away towards a pension, 52% of men are saving.

And why is that? In the forward to the Scottish Widows report, Baroness Hollis of Heigham thinks its down to old fashioned ideas about men providing for their women:

“Too many women believe (often wrongly) that their partner will provide for them.

“They believe too that the children’s need for trainers today takes precedence over some undefined needs 30 years on, that it is ‘selfish’ to squirrel money away today that is needed by the family.

“They are baffled, along with most people, by the complexity of pension structures, and they reassure themselves (again often wrongly) that if the man in their life won’t provide, then the state will.”

Some people might add that it has something to do with the career breaks women take, much more frequently than men, to care for children or elderly relatives. At the moment, your eligibility for state pension is directly connected to how many years you work, while people are presumably much less likely to contribute to private savings if they’re not earning.

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