Female workers miss out on more than £90K in pension savings between the ages of 50 and 64

Ffion White

by , PR Manager

14 Feb 2022 /  

14
Feb 2022

Female caregiver
  • Men aged 50 to 64 typically work nine extra paid hours per week than women of the same age
  • Women aged 50+ are twice as likely to provide unpaid care for others than their male counterparts
  • On average, men’s pension pots grow £91,465 more than women’s between the ages of 50 to 64
  • Women in this age group suffer an average gender pension gap of 32%
  • The vast majority of savers believe that unpaid care work should be equally shared, including 83% of older unpaid female carers, and 85% of savers aged 30 to 45

New research from leading online pension provider, PensionBee, reveals that men aged 64 today have accumulated £439,581 in pension savings, on average - £139,451 more than their female counterparts. Notably, much of this accumulation happens after workers turn 50, when men typically save over £90,000 more into their pensions than women during this period.

According to PensionBee analysis, men tend to participate in more hours of paid work per week, at a higher median hourly rate, throughout their working lives than women, which has a compounding effect in later life. As a result, women aged 50 to 64 experience an average hourly pay gap of 25%, with part-time work being undervalued compared to full-time work. In addition, men aged 50 to 64 work nine extra paid hours a week compared to women of the same age.

The difference in paid working hours first presents itself in a woman’s late 20s to early 30s, the time when mothers typically tend to have their first child (1). This difference peaks again in later life, where a quarter of older female workers have caring responsibilities (for example, elderly parents or grandchildren), double the proportion of older male workers (2). Unpaid carers report difficulty participating in paid work, in addition to their caring responsibilities, re-entering the workforce after time out and achieving career progression (3). But despite this, the prohibitive cost of private care, along with the negative reputation of state provision, has led to many people taking on caring responsibility themselves.

PensionBee found that more than a third (36%) of unpaid carers have cut down or left work due to their care responsibilities, and more than two in five (41%) balance full-time paid work with unpaid care work. Most employed women (62%) work part-time, compared to only 24% of employed men (4). PensionBee research also shows that the vast majority of savers (85%) believe that unpaid care work should be equally shared between genders to avoid unpaid caring responsibilities having a detrimental effect on a person’s ability to save for retirement and meet their own care needs. Women are more likely to strongly agree with this view (41%) compared to men (33%).

If caring responsibilities were shared between genders, more women would be able to stay in full-time work throughout their careers (including after the age of 50), resulting in a women’s overall pension pot size increasing by more than £106,000.

Romi Savova, CEO of PensionBee, commented: “Women are most likely to take on care responsibilities throughout their lives, and to participate less in paid work as a result, leading to lower incomes and lower retirement savings. Whilst there is a role for individuals to play, it is not fair for them to shoulder the full burden. More supportive employer policies, a culture of gender equality, and a more transparent defined contribution pension system can help empower consumers to save for a happy retirement.

With increasing life expectancies meaning more and more older workers will need to take on caring responsibilities, particularly for elderly parents, urgent action is needed to prevent older workers from needing to stay in the workforce for longer, to be able to save enough to support their own retirement and care needs.”

Full PensionBee report available here.

Appendix

Table 1: Pot sizes of workers at age 50 and 64 hours, in relation to hours worked per week

Pot size at 50 (£) Pot size at 64 (£) Pension growth age 50-64 (£) Hours worked per week age 50-64
Men 159,286 439,581 280,295 39
Women 111,301 300,130 188,830 30
Difference 47,985 139,451 91,465 9

Source: PensionBee analysis using data from Gender differences in commute time and pay, 2002-2018, Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Table 2: Leaving or cutting down on paid work to take on caring responsibilities

“Have you left or cut down on paid work hours in order to care for another adult?” Proportion of respondents (%)
No, I continue full-time paid work 40.7
No, I was working part-time or had left paid work before I took on caring responsibilities 19.5
Yes, I’ve cut down on paid work hours and I don’t want to go back to full-time in future 12
Yes, I’ve left paid work and I don’t want to go back in the future 9.1
Yes, I’ve left paid work but I’d like to go back in the future 7.5
Yes, I’ve cut down paid work hours but I’d like to go back full-time in the future 7.1
Other 4.1

Source: PensionBee, November 2021. Respondents: 241 carers aged between 50 and 64.

Table 3: Attitudes towards sharing unpaid care work equally

“Unpaid care work should be equally shared between men and women” Female respondents (%) Male respondents (%) Overall respondents (%)
Strongly agree 41.4 32.7 39.4
Agree 45.5 45.5 45.5
Neither agree or disagree 11 20 13
Disagree 1.6 0 1.2
Strongly disagree 0.5 1.8 0.8

Source: PensionBee, November 2021. Respondents: 250 aged between 30 and 45.

Table 4: Men’s current annual paid working hours and pot size at 64

Annual paid hours Pot size at 64 Gender pension gap at 64
Men 2,038 £439,581 0%

Source: PensionBee analysis, June 2021, using data from Gender differences in commute time and pay, 2002-2018, Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Table 5: Women’s current annual paid working hours and pot size at 64

Annual paid hours Pot size at 64 Gender pension gap at 64
Women 1,615 £300,130 32%

Source: PensionBee analysis, June 2021, using data from Gender differences in commute time and pay, 2002-2018, Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Table 6: Men and women’s current combined pot size at 64

Pot size at 64
Combined £739,712

Source: PensionBee analysis, June 2021, using data from Gender differences in commute time and pay, 2002-2018, Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Table 7: Scenario 4 (Men working equal hours at equal pay) in detail

Annual paid hours Pot size at 64 Gender pension gap at 64
Men 1,975 £406,414 0%

Source: PensionBee analysis, June 2021, using data from Gender differences in commute time and pay, 2002-2018, Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Table 8: Scenario 4 (Women working equal hours at equal pay) in detail

Annual paid hours Pot size at 64 Gender pension gap at 64
Women 1,975 £406,414 0%

Source: PensionBee analysis, June 2021, using data from Gender differences in commute time and pay, 2002-2018, Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Table 9: Men and women’s combined pot size at 64 (when working equal hours at equal pay)

Pot size at 64
Combined £812,827

Source: PensionBee analysis, June 2021, using data from Gender differences in commute time and pay, 2002-2018, Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Table 10: Scenario 4 (Overall changes in working hours and pot size)

Men Women Overall
Change in working hours -63 360 -
Change in pot size at 64 -£33,168 £106,283 -
% Change in pot size -8% 35% 10%

Source: PensionBee analysis, June 2021, using data from Gender differences in commute time and pay, 2002-2018, Office of National Statistics (ONS).

Footnotes

  1. UK Parliament
  2. Office of National Statistics
  3. Centre for Policy on Ageing
  4. Office of National Statistics

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