Bridging the gender gap in pensions

Bridging the gender gap in pensions

Scottish Widows have published the 15th edition of their Women and Retirement report.

Frontier have supported the publication with analysis of survey results and modelling of retirement outcomes.

The report reflects on the preparations women are making for retirement. There is good news, with the number of women saving hitting a record high. At the same time, a sizable gender gap remains. Young women today may end up with a pension pot £78,000 smaller than their male contemporaries.

Various facets of the gender gap are explored, including that women are more likely to:

  • be disengaged with their pension;
  • face a greater chance of experiencing financial difficulty and opting-out of their pension; and
  • struggle with the affordability of housing and broader long-term savings.

Particular challenges are faced by the self-employed. The number of self-employed women has grown by 700,000 since 2005 and now stands at 1.7 million. A minority of them are saving very effectively. But one in three say they are saving nothing. The report argues that a step change is needed to support the self-employed, mirroring the gains that automatic enrolment has delivered for employees in the workplace.

Other reforms in the report are aimed at transforming the retirement savings system to address these challenges and help close the gender gap. Core to this is raising contribution rates while providing greater flexibility to use pension funds to address financial hardship and home ownership. These reforms would be of universal value, but women are likely to be particular beneficiaries given the evidence presented in the report.

Frontier regularly advises on issues in the financial services sector and public policy issues.

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