Suffragette centenary: Start saving early to beat the gender pension gap

6 February 2018

One hundred years ago today women were given the right to vote. The Representation of the People Act was passed on 6 February 1918, giving women over the age of 30 and “of property” the right to formally voice their political opinion.

In 2018, it seems crazy that any woman, irrespective of age, status or wealth, should be denied a vote. Yet while women’s rights have improved immeasurably over the last century, their financial wellbeing continues to lag behind men’s.

As recent events at the BBC have highlighted, there remains a significant gender pay gap with many women earning less than men doing the same job. That combined with women taking more time out of work to raise children or care for relatives mean they are likely to save much less than men.

According to research from financial provider Aegon, at age 50, the average woman is likely to have pension savings worth £56,000 – half the £112,000 put away by the average 50-year old man. In order to catch up with her male peers by age 65, a 50-year old woman would need to save an additional £360 a month.

However younger women, at the start of their pension savings journey, do not need to work so hard to catch up with men, with figures from the pension company highlighting the importance of saving early. At age 30, the average woman has £21,029 saved. In order to catch up with the average man, sitting on a pot worth, £27,688 at the same age, she would only have to save another £21.25 a month to catch up by age 65.

A woman aged 40, with a typical pot of £38,195 would need to pay an additional £73.81 for a further 25 years meanwhile, to catch up with the same aged man who is likely to have £56,026 put away.

Commenting on the findings, Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon says: “It’s shocking that 100 years after women secured the vote, we have a gender pay gap across every occupation. The fact that the pay gap filters down to mean women receive lower pension incomes is a double blow.” 

She adds: “Gaps in pension savings history leave you worse off in retirement — but for women who take time out of their career this is unavoidable and could mean they have to work longer to make up the shortfall. However, the earlier women are able to address the shortfall, the better. Our figures show that women in the early part of their career are within touching distance of men’s overall savings – by the time pensions freedoms are an option, the pension pots of men are out of sight.”

For more information watch Moneywise's Moira O'Neill discuss the gender pensions gap with Fidelity's Maike Currie:

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