Thirtysomething women in 'alarming' retirement savings gender gap


Women are most in danger of falling into an "alarming" retirement savings gender gap when they are aged in their 30s, according to a report.

Research by Scottish Widows into how well people are preparing for their retirement found that the gulf between men and women widens significantly when savers reach their 30s and start to juggle jobs with family life.

The Women and Retirement report found that men aged in their 20s are slightly more confident than women that they are putting enough cash away for their later years, with 30% of men believing they are preparing adequately or more than adequately, compared with 26% of women.

But the gap increases sharply when people enter their 30s. By this point, nearly half (48%) of men are confident they are putting enough cash aside, compared with 31% of women.

The report found that women aged in their 20s tended to save higher amounts into workplace pensions that men.

Of those paying into a workplace pension scheme, twentysomething men were paying in £93.26 a month on average, whilst female savers were putting away around double this amount - at £180.36 at this age.

But between the ages of 30 and 39 years old, the position is reversed, and men were found to be paying higher amounts into workplace pensions than women.

Thirtysomething men paying into a workplace scheme were saving £202.58 a month on average, while women saving into a scheme were managing to put away £119.59 a month.

The savings gap was found to continue into later life, with male workplace pension savers putting away more cash on average than women.

Starting a family has a clear impact on the ability of women to save, the report found, as 27% of women with between one and three dependent children work part-time, versus 6% of men.

The report also said that many women are slipping through the net because they do not earn enough to automatically be placed into a workplace pension.

Under the automatic enrolment scheme, workers are automatically placed into a pension by their employer, provided they are over the age of 22 and earn more than £10,000 a year.

But the report said that one in four (25%) women earns less than £10,000 per year.

The report said: "We recommend the earnings trigger for automatic enrolment is reduced considerably."

Jackie Leiper, a retirement expert at Scottish Widows, said the "alarming" savings gap when women reach their 30s needs to be tackled.

She said: "Whether it's having a family, taking a career break or changing working patterns, we need to ensure that these life changes impacting women do not jeopardise their future security. This is particularly important given the decision to freeze the auto-enrolment threshold at £10,000, which is estimated to have excluded around 170,000 people from auto-enrolment, of whom 120,000 are women.

"The need for pension providers, the government and employers to offer more targeted engagement, education and support for women is becoming more prevalent as they navigate their way through the complex savings environment, often juggling the demands of family and work."

The report is based on research among more than 5,000 people across the UK.