According to the 17th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey, and a subsequent write up in Forbes magazine, “compared to men, women are: saving far less for retirement, worrying a good deal more and calling retirement saving a lower financial priority.”
This statement is backed up by a 2016 report by CreditDonkey.com, which says, “Women are not saving for retirement or putting money away for a rainy day”. To refer to some statistics from the same report; “63% of women said that they were not currently saving for retirement, and over 55% said that they had no saving strategy currently in place”.
The question to be asked of course, is Why? Why are women saving less than men?
There are a number of external social and economic factors that influence women’s saving ability. One of these is pointed out by the Transamerica Report, saying that most workers in America are offered a 401(k) or other self-funded plan by their employers; however, men (at 73%) have greater access to these plans, compared to only 68% of women. In the UK it is now mandatory for all businesses to enrol their staff on a Workplace Pension Scheme. However, the percentage of your salary that you wish to pay is left up to the individual to decide.
Another social factor influencing women’s ability to save, is the need for them to take career gaps for things like maternity leave, child care, or elderly parent care. In fact, recent data from the ONS found that older female workers are "twice as likely as men to be informal carers".
This often leads to women rejoining the workforce on reduced hours, or reduced salaries, in order to meet childcare needs and expenses. For many people on average working salaries paying for full time childcare is just not an option as it is too expensive. In comparison, men are far more likely to be able to continue their career trajectory uninterrupted. The results can be seen in the numbers, with women's pensions worth a staggering £100,000 less than men's, due to childcare commitments.
The pay gap
A recent report by Zurich on pension savings highlighted yet another potential reason for why women are not able to save as much as men. It found that women will end up with a pension pot “worth an average £47,000 less than their male counterparts”. This is specifically due to the well-documented gender pay gap, as well as men being 10% more likely than women to be promoted to management positions.
Indeed, the effect of this gap on women's savings is clear, with 53% of women polled in the aforementioned Transamerica Survey (compared to just 36% of men), say that their greatest financial priority is "just getting by - covering basic living expenses".
When the pay gap is finally closed, both men and women will be saving on an equal playing field.
Despite recent improvements in pay equality, an increasing number of female CEOs and entrepreneurs, and an overall rise in female empowerment in the workplace, women are still less financially literate than men.
When it comes to the stock market, for example, women are less likely to invest their savings, with only 17% of women investing in the stock market, compared to 31% of men. this means women are missing out on the substantial benefits that investment can offer.
furthermore, the earlier Zurich report analysis also found that only 30% of women over the age of 18 have started saving for retirement, compared to 38% of men. This gap needs to be closed, and women need to work towards greater financial literacy in order to improve their financial positions.
Educating yourself on how to manage your personal finances, and making small savings when you can is the first step towards building yourself a better financial future.