Business Personal Finance

Monday 14 October 2019

Women's pension pots three times smaller than their male counterparts

But signs more are now beginning to save into plans

Stock photo: PA
Stock photo: PA
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Men are retiring on private pensions that are three times bigger than those of women.

New research shows that the average man who has a private pension will retire with an annual payout of €6,500.

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But the average woman who has saved into a private pension has three times less, with a retirement income of €2,300, according to research by Standard Life.

The figures exclude the State pension which is around €12,900 a year, but they include people with a public-sector pension.

However, there are signs women are beginning to save money for retirement.

The findings chime with recent research from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) that found women in retirement get a third less than men, something which is referred to as the gender pension gap.

ESRI researchers found that retired women get €153 less a week in pensions than their male counterparts.

Over a year this means that retired women get almost €8,000 less than retired men.

The difference is largely due to the fact that men have been in the workforce longer and more of them have occupational and private pensions than women.

Career interruptions due to caring responsibilities are the main reason women end up with less in private pension income.

Women earn less, work fewer hours and have shorter careers when they do work outside the home.

But women are now taking huge strides to invest in pensions, but they still lag behind men when it comes to the number that have a retirement plan in place to finance their years after work.

Standard Life said that there has been a 40pc surge in the number of women signing up for a private pension.

However, the increase is coming off a small base.

Its findings come from a survey of 1,000 adults carried out by Research Plus.

The survey found that some 46pc of people have a pension, once the State pension is excluded.

Some 39pc of women have a pension, but this rises to 54pc for men.

This finding includes public-sector pensions. Almost all public-sector employees get enrolled in a pension, which means coverage for women is less of an issue than in the private sector.

In the private sector just over a third of people have a pension, outside the State scheme.

Some 44pc of men have a pension, and 29pc of women.

Some four out of 10 people say they can't afford a pension, while a similar proportion say they have not got around to starting one, or do not know how to start one.

Standard Life spokesperson Aileen Power said the media and industry focus on women's pensions was prompting more of them to talk about the topic and to take action to start a pension.

"We appreciate the increase is coming from a small base but it suggests private-sector women are more engaged with pensions and investing in a more comfortable retirement for themselves, rather than relying on husbands, partners," Ms Power said.

She said that once people understand how important it is to have their own pension and how beneficial the tax breaks are they take action.

"We hope this is what this survey is telling us," she said.

She advised women to talk to a family member or friend that they trust on pension matters and ask all basic questions and get comfortable with the topic.

At work, women should find out who is in charge of signing people up to a pension. All employers, irrespective of size, have to offer access to a pension, Standard Life advised.

If your employer is offering a percentage of your salary as a contribution towards your pension, the advice is to sign up fast. Otherwise, you could be missing thousands of euro a year, Ms Power said.

Irish Independent

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