Scottish Widows research: Gender pay gap affecting women’s pension pots

The number of women saving for retirement has risen to 50% in 2011, compared to 43% in 2010, according to research by Scottish Widows.

The Scottish Widows women and pensions report 2011, which surveyed 5,200 UK adults, found that, despite this rise in the number of women saving, men are still saving as much as £700 more than women each year due to disparity in income levels.

Women are putting aside on average 12.9% of their income, including any employer pension contributions. Men, by comparison, are saving less: 12.6% of their income. 

However, men are able to save significantly more for retirement as they typically earn higher salaries: £28,091 for men compared to £22,490 for women.

Many women are saving nothing at all: 23% compared with 17% of men.

The research found that the gap between the number of men and women saving for retirement is closing. 

However, there is a growing disparity between the age groups, as 56% of women aged over 51 save adequately for retirement, compared to 46% of women aged between 30 and 50.

Additional findings include:

  • The average man preparing for retirement saves £4,158 a year, compared to £3,457 a year for women.
  • 71% of women say they cannot afford to save long term, compared to 60% of men.
  • 19% of women under 30 are currently investing in cash savings compared to 40% of those over the age of 50.
  • Older women use more equity-backed investments compared to younger women, or even their male counterparts.
  • Younger women understand that the government will not be able to cover their retirement, with only 12% of women under the age of 30 assuming that it will contribute most of the income in retirement, compared with 28% of women over 50.
  • 43% of younger women believe they will remain in a pension scheme after being automatically enrolled, which is significantly higher compared with 33% of older women.

Ian Naismith, head of pensions market development at Scottish Widows, said: “It is encouraging to see a positive step change in the number of women saving adequately for retirement, especially given the challenging economic climate, but the gender gap still exists.

“Many women will spend a proportion of their career working part-time and will also face challenges of lower pay, higher childcare cost and growing unemployment, so despite their best efforts this will have a knock-on effect on their financial decisions and saving for retirement.

“Women often give higher financial priority to family as opposed to their pension. While this is laudable, they need to ensure that they give enough priority to providing for their own retirements.”

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