Women’s Retirement Challenges Belied by Their Assumptions

Women tend to face higher expenses in retirement than men, and they do tend to be less confident about their prospects – but it doesn’t appear to affect their retirement expectations.

Statistically, there are no differences in the age at which workers plan to retire by gender and marital status; all groups have median expected retirement age of 65, according to the 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) from the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). Despite their longer life expectancy, women are statistically as likely as men to think they are very likely to live until age 85 (38% of women and 35% of men). Unmarried women, however, are more likely to say they are very likely to live until age 95 (15%) than unmarried men (9%) or married men (7%) and married women (8%).

Despite the fact that women tend to face higher expenses in retirement due to their greater longevity, unmarried women (36%) are more likely than their unmarried male counterparts (25%) to think they will need to accumulate less than $250,000 for retirement.

Similarly, married workers are more likely than unmarried workers to report having money in a defined contribution (DC) plan or individual retirement account (IRA), including a rollover IRA. Unmarried workers are more than twice as likely as married workers to have less than $1,000 in total household savings and investments. At the other extreme, married workers are far more likely than either unmarried women or unmarried men to report having accumulated at least $250,000.

Married ‘Mien’

Married men are the least likely to say that employment will be a major source of income in retirement (11% vs. 26% of unmarried men, 23% of unmarried women, and 17% of married women).

Unmarried women (48%) are more likely than married men (25%) and married women (33%) to report that Social Security will be a major source of income in retirement. Unmarried men are also more likely to report that Social Security will be a major source of income than married men (37% vs. 25%).

Married men and women are more likely than unmarried men and women to report having saved for retirement; eight in 10 married workers say they have saved for retirement, compared with a little over half of unmarried workers.

Unmarried men, unmarried women, and married women are more likely than married men to say they are very or somewhat interested in purchasing an insurance product with a portion of their savings that begins providing guaranteed monthly income at some point in the future, such as age 80 or 85. Unmarried women are most likely to say they are interested (44%), followed by unmarried men (40%) and married women (40%). Married men are least likely to express interest (29%).

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