Posted on 05 March 2013
By Mark Miller
It is time to stop blaming the victim when it comes to women and retirement planning.
An endless stream of studies and surveys all show women are less prepared for retirement than men. The typical story line: “Women aren’t interested in managing money, and they’re not good at it. They’re more interested in other things – family, friends, children.”
The real problem can be found elsewhere – in the sobering data about the economic gender gap. A new study on women and retirement, released today by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, finds that nearly half of women lack a retirement strategy, are not confident about their ability to retire comfortably, and do not plan to retire. Ever.
The study says that many women are struggling just to get by: A majority (55 percent) are focused on paying off consumer debt and covering basic living expenses. Just 20 percent say that saving for retirement is their highest financial priority, although the number is a bit higher among older working women (29 percent). By contrast, men are more likely to cite retirement saving as their top priority (26 percent) and less likely to cite paying off debt as their number one concern (23 percent).
The study also notes that the women’s annual incomes continue to lag those of men. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women earned 77 cents in 2010 for every dollar earned by men. This means lower lifetime earnings and savings, and lower Social Security benefits. Explanations still include gender discrimination, but also the career pauses women are more likely to make to care for children and aging parents.
Learn more in my column today at Reuters Money.