Women taking 'huge financial risks' by relying on partners for support
WOMEN are taking huge risks by staking their financial futures on men.
A new academic study has found that a majority of females rely on their partners to pay for their lifestyle.
But this is a high-risk strategy because they could be left with nothing in the event of a separation, divorce, widowhood, illness or redundancy.
And less than one in three women who are entitled to a state contributory pension qualify for the full €230 a week payment, the study by academics from NUI Galway and Queen's University, Belfast, found.
A majority of men, by contrast, end up with the full state pension when they retire.
Women have inferior pensions compared with men because they are are mainly engaged in low-paying jobs or only work part-time and do not earn enough to qualify for a full state pension, with most of them not paying into a private retirement fund.
The fact that the primary role of many women is caring also accounts for poor pension provision among women.
The study, 'Older Women Workers' Access to Pensions', found that many depend on their partners' or husbands' incomes for a secure future, even though they may well outlive them as women tend to have longer life expectancies.
"Reliance on a partner's income is common, but is a risky strategy in the event of separation, divorce, widowhood, illness or redundancy," authors Dr Aine Ni Leime and Dr Nata Duvvury said.
Women only tend to become aware of the importance of the need to have a personal pension late in life, or when their husband loses his job.
And the economic downturn has made the situation worse for women.
Higher taxes and the imposition of additional levies and charges has made it impossible for all but the very wealthy women to pay into a retirement fund.
"The pensions system in Ireland is in crisis," said Dr Duvvury. "The Government wants to encourage people to pay into a pension.
"But on the other hand they are taking so much in taxes and levies that people can't afford to pay into a pension."
But even for women who could afford to contribute to private pensions, the failure of the banking system resulted in significant losses to the value of their pension funds.
This is because investment losses have meant that private pension schemes have not even kept pace with the rate of inflation when looked at over the past 10 years. And those who invested in banks in the hope of drawing down the money in retirement have lost everything on these punts.
The research found that women were often the holders of low-paid and part-time jobs, which would dramatically affect their ability to build a pension pot.
"With the economic crisis, this particular group in society is being put under even more financial pressure and the long-term result looks set to be financial insecurity in older age," Dr Duvvury said.