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A gender savings gap is emerging

A gender savings gap is emerging

Category: Savings

Updated: 21/04/2016
First Published: 21/04/2016

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Saving regularly can be a difficult habit for people to get into, but it seems that there's a clear divide between men and women's ability to do so, with research from NFU Mutual highlighting the extent of the emerging gender gap.

Not just a pay gap

The research found that women are rapidly falling behind their male counterparts when it comes to saving, with 63% of men saying they find it easy to save on a regular basis compared with just 53% of women. As a result, more women than men are worried about their lack of savings, the report noted, with the issue arguably being compounded by the persistent gender pay gap.

The report cited recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which show that the UK gender pay gap for men and women in both full-time and part-time work remains at 19.2%, and it's this that could be affecting women's ability to save for retirement.

Lack of preparation

The gender savings gap could have worrying long-term consequences, too, particularly in terms of retirement income. The research found that a far greater number of men than women know how much they need to save for retirement, with the figures standing at 29% and 15% respectively, arguably as fewer women are having these kinds of conversations: 14% of men said they'd discussed retirement or pensions with their employer, for example, compared with just 8% of women.

This highlights the potential consequences that could ensue, as not only is the gender pay gap meaning women are saving less, but they're also less likely to have the appropriate conversations – and that could put their retirement income at risk.

"UK men currently earn on average just under a fifth more than women, and this gender pay gap may take many years to fill," explains Joy Hawtin, chartered financial planner for NFU Mutual. "Our research suggests that, along with pay, women are also losing out saving for retirement and actually having the discussions about saving. Until the gender pay gap decreases, we could continue to see women falling behind men with savings."

Women facing pensioner poverty

This concern is reiterated by findings from think tank The Fawcett Society, which found that women in their 20s and 30s are at risk of poverty in retirement as they're simply not saving as much as men.

The study found that this is often driven by women sacrificing pension contributions to cover the cost of childcare, or taking time out of work to look after children themselves, which means many are relying on their partner for financial security in retirement. This is despite the fact that many believed they should be financially independent, but a lack of confidence undermined this. The study also found that student debt was a barrier to pension saving, too, and that although automatic enrolment has helped simplify things, the contributions wouldn't be enough to ensure a comfortable retirement.

Sam Smethers, of the think tank, said that "the gender pay gap becomes a pensions gap in retirement. In particular, women are taking a big hit on their pensions when they have children, but are not aware of the impact this will have on them in the long term".

This, again, highlights the need to be prepared and to have the right conversations with family, partners and employers, particularly women who may lose out if they don't save sufficiently. Hopefully, as Joy Hawtin concludes, "as savers start to talk more about retirement and pensions, we may see just as many women talking about it as men".

What next?

Find out more about pensions – and why you need one – by reading our guides

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