Young women must save £185k more to match men’s pensions

Young women must save £185k more to match men’s pensions

Young women will need to save an average of £185,000 more during their working lives to reach the same retirement income as men, according to Scottish Widows.

Its latest Women and Retirement report found women currently in their 20s would have only saved around £250,000 by the time they retired. 

But men will have closer to £350,000 on average.

This gender pension gap is exacerbated by figures showing that a 25-year-old man today will live to 86 based on current estimates, while a woman can expect to reach the age of 89. 

Therefore, due to her longer life, the average woman will need £400,000 in her pension pot to achieve the same level of retirement income as a man with £350,000.

But the report found some women needed to save even more.

For example, one in four women who are 60 today will live to be 94 and one in 10 will live to 98, meaning they will also need to have saved more money to pay for potential care costs.

Estimates suggested women spend on average 460 days in care homes, while men spend just 100. With the average cost of care £679 a week, this means women can expect to spend £35,000 more than men.

According to Scottish Widows, this means women need to save an extra £185,000 to achieve the same retirement lifestyle as a man. 

This equates to an extra £2,500 a year, or £210 every month, from their mid-20s until the day they retire.

Jackie Leiper, managing director of workplace savings at Scottish Widows, said: “It’s well known that the gender pay gap has a damaging impact on women’s retirement prospects. But even if we close the saving gap, pension equality would still not be achieved. Women need to fund a longer retirement and shell out more on care costs.

“There are ways to help level the playing field – from enhancing maternity pensions to offering better parental leave and financial support for childcare – so that women are no longer financially penalised for raising a family.

"Of course, we must also tackle the larger structural issues in our society, like the gender pay gap.”

As a way to try and lessen the gender pensions gap, Scottish Widows has suggested automatic enrolment should be reformed to increase default contributions and the mandatory inclusion of pensions in divorce settlements. 

It has also said the industry should raise awareness of joint annuities and lobby for regulatory intervention on this issue.

Despite this, the report has found the same proportion of men and women were now saving enough for a comfortable retirement for the first time on record.

Back in 2007 the Adequate Savings Index recorded its widest gap ever, with 54 per cent of men saving adequately versus 41 per cent of women. 

In 2021 that gap has closed completely, with three out of five men and women (61 per cent) putting away the recommended minimum of 12 per cent.

Leiper added: “After 17 years of reporting on gender differences in our Adequate Savings Index, it’s encouraging to see the gap finally closed. However, this must come with a health warning, as women remain disadvantaged by persistent inequalities in our society.