Charlie Weston: 'Time for a radical rethink about how our society values work of carers'
Blame the children. Mammy has a smaller pension than Daddy because she has been in the workforce sporadically.
And opting out of paid work to care for children in the home, particularly in children's early years, leads to a smaller occupational pension. A lack of sufficient childcare places, and the astronomical cost of having a child minded while parents work, mean many decide that going out to work is just not worth it.
Others make a conscious decision to stay at home with their children.
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The upshot is that women lose out when it comes to pensions, other than the State scheme.
The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), prompted by the Pensions Council, has performed a useful task in measuring the gender pension gap.
Researchers found that on average women receive €153 less a week when they retire than men. It was found men get €433 on average, with women receiving just €280. This works out at just shy of €8,000 a year.
That is a hell of a lot of money - a sum that would make life a lot more comfortable for retired women if they were to get it.
This disparity is despite the fact women live longer than men.
The main reason for the gap is that women are far less inclined to have a private or occupational pension.
There are a complex set of reasons for women flitting in and out of work. Sometimes it is to care for children, or to care for an elderly relative, and for others it is due to social conditions and personal desires.
What it boils down to is that we expect more of women than men, with many juggling the lion's share of household chores while working outside the home.
And then we leave them with less when they retire.
The clear implication of the gender pension gap findings are that we need to do more to make it easier for women who want to stay or return to the workforce to do just that.
Having some of the most expensive childcare in the Western world does not encourage women to work outside the home and contribute to a pension.
But maybe we need to go even further and radically alter how we value the work of carers. Should the work of someone bringing up a child in the home, or caring for a dementia-suffering parent, not be worthy of being recognised for pension purposes?
The Homemakers' Scheme attempts to do this with the State pension, but it may be appropriate to incorporate something like this is a much more extensive, universal State pension scheme.
Given that the numbers over the age of 65 is set to rise by one million by 2051, there is a massive challenge here.
But the gender pensions gap will only get worse if we do not act now.