Mind the gap: Young women face almost 40 years longer at work to reach pension equality

  • The average woman in her twenties is on course to have £100k less in her pension pot than a man of the same age
  • A woman would have to work an estimated 37 extra years to make up this shortfall
  • Upping pension contributions by 5% could close this gap almost entirely

Young female savers are set to have £100k less in retirement income than their male counterparts, according to data from Scottish Widows. Lower average earnings, part-time work and taking time out of paid employment to care for family is setting women back by almost four decades.

International Women’s Day, celebrated earlier this month, highlighted the progress made in gender equality. However, Scottish Widows has found that there is still some way to go before the gender pensions gap closes.To reach retirement parity, a woman in her 20s today will have to work 37 years longer than a man the same age to accumulate the same income.

Young women were already on the wrong side of the gender pensions gap, which has only widened as a result of the pandemic. More than a third (36%) under the age of 25 work in hardest hit sectors such as hospitality and retail, and almost half (49%) have been furloughed.

Any reduction in hours or a career break will have an impact on pension outcomes. For those working part-time or on reduced hours, this can mean lower contributions or missing out on auto-enrolment.

A lack of engagement amongst young female savers is also contributing to lower savings levels. More than one in five women under 25 admit that they have not started thinking about retirement. Just 46% of women in their 20s are saving the recommended minimum of 12% of their income, compared to 56% of men.

Jackie Leiper, Managing Director, Pensions, Stockbroking and Distribution at Scottish Widows, said: “Women were already facing systemic challenges when saving for retirement. We know that young women have been some of the hardest hit by the short-term financial impact of the pandemic and this has only exacerbated the challenge of reaching pensions parity. At the same time, caring responsibilities and high childcare costs are keeping women out of the workforce, lowering their contributions and denting their pension pots.

“Whilst we can’t change societal norms overnight, progress is still possible to help young women achieve a comfortable retirement. By taking control of their contributions and increasing them as early as possible, young women stand a fighting chance of improving their long-term savings outlook.”

*Calculated as an average over the first 15 years of their careers.

Source – https://adviser.scottishwidows.co.uk/assets/literature/docs/2021-03-mind-the-gap-young-women.pdf

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