EU pension gender gap hits 40%

8 June 2017

The average male pensioner in the EU has a pension worth 40% more than the average woman, according to new analysis from employee benefit consultant, Mercer.

For those in work this compares to an average difference in pay of 16%.

Although there were differences between different parts of the EU, Mercer said that half of member states had a pension gender gap of 30% or more. The pension gap for pensioners aged over 65 in the UK was 40%, behind only Luxembourg and Germany.

Commenting on the findings, Mandy Schreuder, diversity and inclusion consultant at Mercer says that employers are key to tackling the crisis. “It’s not only an urgent challenge for governments and policymakers, the pensions gap should be forefront of employers’ minds. Women live longer but with lower levels of savings they face a higher risk of retiring into poverty than their male counterparts.”

She adds: “The gender pay gap may be the hot topic at the moment but few of us consider the impact it has, in combination with career breaks on the financial wellness of women in retirement. Coupled with an ageing Europe workforce this challenge will be highly relevant to companies over the coming years.”

Mercer says that those companies that work to close the gender pensions gap will enjoy the benefits of increased employee engagement and productivity.

Across the EU, most pensions are linked to income, meaning that those workers who earn less, work part time or take time out to care for children or older family members invariably have smaller pensions.  While Mercer says that some firms are trying to tackle this, less than 10% have savings or pension schemes to accommodate different working patterns.

‘People need to focus early on what they need to save for retirement’

Eve Read, principal head of proposition at Mercer says: “Most retirement plans are designed for a 40-year long, continuous, full-time career with few breaks and do not reflect womens’ divergent needs.”

This problem is compounded by the fact that women are typically less confident making investment decisions than men. Mercer research shows that women are 62% more likely than men to pick a defensive investment. Although the risk profile of these funds might be lower, they are likely to grow less as a result and may not provide the outcomes women need.

Ms Read adds: “The root causes behind women’s risk aversion and lack of financial confidence are multi-dimensional and complex but action-orientated financial education should be at the heart of the solution. We have found that benefits communication that is based on a women’s individual circumstances is more likely to get her attention and subsequently take positive action.”

Christopher Stiles, a director at law firm, Gowling WLG, says that the research shows that pension saving must be regarded as a greater priority for society as a whole. “If people focus early on what they need to save in order to fund the lifestyle they want when they retire, then that will benefit everyone – women and men.  The role of the pensions industry is to promote awareness on issues like this, and to ensure that if people do take an active interest, there is a system which will support their needs.”  


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I am in the same boat Janette except until very recently it was just my father I was looking after. No other country in Europe has done something like this and it was against EU recommendations with less than 10 years to go to retirement but generally if you try to discuss it online you just get a load of misogynist bile.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

So much for equality. I am one of the women whose state pension age has been changed twice leaving me over £30000 worse off. I was not given enough time to review my position and had to retire at 60 as I am a carer for my father who has dementia. I was not and never have been equal, However, the government think I am. Little wonder this country is in such a mess they are completely out of touch with the lives of ordinary people.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I am one of the many who expected to receive my pension at 60 but now 66 I have been looking after both my mother and father so could not take a part time job to help me finance towards these 6 years it is very rear that males have to give up work to look after there parents so I feel it very unfair that I am victimised because I have looked after both my parents and now as the above article states the future for woman is not good

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