Sunday 20 October 2019

Charlie Weston: 'The gender gap will eventually be closed - but it will take time'


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Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

When it comes to pensions, women are at a considerable disadvantage.

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

Their role as carers accounts for much of this, with many taking time out of the workforce to mind children at home during the day, or to look after a relative.

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Others opt out of a full-time job outside the home because the cost of childcare is so high it can sometimes be of only marginal economic benefit to go out to work.

And all this is despite the fact that women live longer than men.

A recent report from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) found that women who retired get 35pc less in pension income than men. A figure of €153 a week was put on this pensions gender gap. Over a year this means retired women get almost €8,000 less than retired men.

The ESRI found that most retired men they included in the study had worked for more than 30 years, but only a third of women had spent that long in the workforce.

The data in the survey was from 2010. The hope was that things may have improved.

So it is very dispiriting to see another, more up to date, survey showing that women still have saved little for their retirement.

Standard Life-conducted research among 1,000 adults has revealed that the average man who has a private pension will retire with an annual income of €6,500.

For women, the news is grim. Women who have saved into a private pension have three times less, with a retirement income of €2,300, according to Standard Life.

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

The research found that women with higher educational attainments were less likely to suffer a gender pensions gap. No gender gap was found when it comes to those who receive a State pension.

That's the bad news. The bright spot is that many women seem to have wised-up to the need to have a financially comfortable retirement.

This is evidenced from the findings in the Standard Life research that shows an impressive 40pc rise in female pension ownership in the last year.

There is still a long way to go, but many women appear to have cottoned on to the need for action. They are aware of the gender pension gap.

They have realised it is not worth waiting for the Government's much-promised auto-enrolment pension scheme for those with no private or occupational pension.

So they are increasingly doing it for themselves when it comes to providing for those years after they leave the workforce, and are less inclined to rely on husbands or partners. It all means the pensions gender gap will eventually be closed, but it will take a long while.

Irish Independent

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