Women’s pensions held back by male breadwinner model

Today Fawcett publish new research report Closing the Pensions Gap: Understanding Women’s Attitudes to Pensions Saving, examining why women save less than men. It reveals that women in their twenties and thirties are under saving for their pensions and may be at risk of poverty in retirement, because they put their own needs last and take full responsibility for childcare costs.

The qualitative study, in conjunction with Dr Liam Foster and Martin Heneghan from the University of Sheffield and supported by Scottish Widows, found that whilst most women interviewed believed they should be financially independent, many had cut their own pensions contributions to cover the costs of childcare or as a result of taking time out of work to look after children.  Often these women were relying more on their partner for a secure retirement than they realised.

Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society Chief Executive, said:

“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.

“Women are putting everyone else’s needs before their own especially when it comes to who pays for childcare. Their baby becomes her childcare bill.”

Key Findings

  • The research explored the reasons for this and found underpinning many decisions about pensions were traditional ideas about male and female responsibilities
  • Most women interviewed were unaware of the financial consequences for themselves of the impact of unequal caring responsibilities and the savings decisions they are making
  • Many interviewees sought pensions advice from men (e.g. fathers or partners) or defer to them when it comes to decision-making about pensions. They display a lack of confidence, which is undermining their financial independence and decision-making.  The report suggests that gendered assumptions about maths at school, and girls and women put off by a ‘masculine’ financial environment is partly to blame.
  • Student debt and the costs of a family were found to be key barriers to saving for these women. Automatic-enrolment (AE) is a welcome way to simplify starting a pension but AE payments will not be enough to ensure sufficient income in later life.

Read our Executive Summary and Key Findings here

Read or download the full report:Closing the Pensions Gap: Understanding Women’s Attitudes to Pensions Saving

Read the full press release here


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