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Men more prepared to retire than women: are gender roles to blame?

Retirement, gender roles, men and women, elder, senior citizen

A retirement readiness survey has found that women in the UK and USA are less prepared to retire than men, but the gap is widest in Australia.

A new report from the Actuaries Institute of Australia has revealed that 58 per cent of respondents expect to live a “poor or modest” life in retirement and for a third, there are no plans to retire at all.

The average over the three countries was 47 per cent of men preparing to retire compared to 34 per cent of women.

The gap widens in Australia by 22 per cent, with 54 per cent of men prepared, compared to 32 per cent of women.


“Consistent differences in retirement preparation between genders across all three countries could be looked at from the perspective of traditional gender roles,” the institute suggested.  

“Women might feel less responsible, especially if they live in households with men who take care of this financial responsibility. Or, it might be that men, feeling that they ought to be able and willing to handle these responsibilities, exaggerate their preparations, creating an appearance of gendered differences in preparedness where none exists.”

The researchers questioned whether younger people are “shedding traditional gender roles” and, if so, whether the gender gap is as large.

However, the results for just the 18-34 year-old cohort showed the gap diminished but did not disappear.

“If these gender-based results were the product of traditional gender roles that have evolved in recent generations, we would expect to see significantly smaller gaps in this younger age range,” the researchers said.

Nevertheless, “substantial” differences persist in retirement preparedness. In that cohort, US men were the most prepared (48 per cent) and British women were the least prepared with less than 25 per cent preparing.

Within this cohort, the gap between men and women was most prevalent in the US, followed by Australia and the UK.

“The persistent and consistent gender gap within the youngest age cohort across all three countries raises the question of why this gap occurs,” the researchers contended.

“Is it a carryover of traditional cultural roles in which men expect and are expected to handle financial matters more than women? Is it that education and information that might encourage preparation is more geared to men than women? Or is it the result of broadly shared attitudes in which men over-report their preparation and readiness compared to women?”

One-third have no plans to retire at all

Actuaries Institute president, Jenny Lyon said the finding that one-third of respondents do not plan to retire at all was alarming. She added: “We are immersed in an era of diminished expectations compared to the period even two decades previous”.

The Actuaries Institutes of Australia, America and the UK proposed three initiatives to promote retirement planning:

1.       More and improved education around financial literacy and retirement planning;

2.       “Clear and workable” default options for retirement savings; and

3.       Continued existence of public pensions, “an essential part of retirement funding for many people”.

Men more prepared to retire than women: are gender roles to blame?
Retirement, gender roles, men and women, elder, senior citizen
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