It is a fact of life that women face a higher level of financial risk during their lifetime than men. There are differences between men and women with regard to lifespan, lifestyles, income and attitudes which can have a negative effect on a woman’s financial position.
Women live around 5-7 years longer than men on average and tend to marry men older than themselves. They are therefore much more likely to be living on their own in retirement than men. Living costs for a single person are more than half the living costs of a couple and so women are more likely to be living in poverty in retirement.
During their working lives, women earn on average significantly less than men and it is therefore harder for single women to save for unexpected expenses, their financial goals, or retirement. Many relationships today end in separation or divorce, often leaving women with a lower standard of living and a high economic burden. Women’s careers are more likely to be interrupted by child rearing or caring for elderly parents. It has been said that for every year a woman stays home to look after a child, she must work five extra years to recover lost income, retirement savings and career promotions.
Anecdotally, as the baby boomers are moving into their fifties and sixties, there is a growing number of women who left school in an era when career and income expectations for women were low, who have been through a relationship breakdown and perhaps a redundancy and who are about to enter retirement living in rental accommodation or with a mortgage and no savings. Women need to take steps to avoid ending their lives in poverty and should not rely on some Prince Charming or the Government to take care of them.