6 Ways Men and Women Differ on Retirement

It’s said that men are from Mars, women from Venus – but when it comes to retirement preparations, those differences can have a big impact.

The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies recently published a set of select findings from the 17th Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey of American Workers. Here’s a selection from that selection – ways in which men and women face differ in their opportunities and approach to retirement.

1. They Lack Confidence in Retiring Confidently

Only 10% of women are “very confident” in their ability to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle, about half the rate found among men (19%). Nearly half of women (45%) are “not too confident” or “not at all confident,” compared with a third of men who share those sentiments.

2. Most Lack a Plan B If Forced Into Retirement Sooner Than Planned

Fewer than one in five (19%) of women say they have a backup plan if forced into retirement sooner than expected. About a third (31%) of men say they do.

3. They Started Saving Later

Seventy-two percent of women are saving for retirement through employer-sponsored plans (e.g., 401(k) or similar plans) and/or outside the workplace (e.g., in IRAs or mutual funds) – nearly as many as the 80% of men. However, they started later than their male counterparts (median age of 28 versus 26 for men).

4. They Are Less Likely to Be Offered Retirement Benefits

One in four women (26%) work part-time compared to only 14% of men – a gap that impacts access to retirement plans at work. Forty-two percent of women part-timers are offered a 401(k) or similar plan compared to 77% of women full-timers.

5. Most Participate in a 401(k) or Similar Plan, If Offered One – But Don’t Save as Much

Among those offered a 401(k) or similar plan, women’s participation rate lags that of men by just a bit (75% and 79%, respectively). However, at median, women contribute only 6% of pay, compared with 10% of men.

6. More Likely to Guess at Retirement Needs

Women estimate that they will need to have saved $500,000 (median) to feel financially secure when they retire, an estimate shared by men. Among those who estimated their savings needs, more than half (56%) of women say they “guessed” at what the figure should be and only 8% said they had used a calculator or completed a worksheet. Men are far less likely to have guessed (40%) and twice as likely to have used a calculator or completed a worksheet (16%).

Not Entirely Unlike

The data reveal two ways in which men and women aren’t very different at all:

  • Many expect to retire after age 65 or not at all. Fifty-three percent of women plan to retire after age 65 (40%) or do not plan to retire (13%). One in four women expect to retire at age 65, and about one in five (22%) expect to do so before age 65. That’s not much different from men.
  • Half plan to work in retirement. Half of women plan to work after they retire, including 11% who plan to work full-time. That’s also not much different from men; 52% of men plan to work after they retire, including 15% full-time.

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