Are women relying upon their partners for pensions income?
Despite the great social changes over the past century of women’s role in society, one area that seems to not have kept pace with these changes is that of retirement savings. It is a paradox, that while many women have gained equality in virtually every area of life and society, many have neglected to plan for their own retirement, often stating that they will rely on their husband’s retirement provision to care for them in their senior years.
The Daily Telegraph recently published the findings of the Scottish Widow’s 2012 Pensions Report which surveyed 5200 adults in the UK. The report found that less than one fifth of women were confident that their savings would last through their retirement.
One of the revelations of the recent Scottish Widows survey was that 79% of women did not discuss pensions before getting married and 78% did not know if they were entitled to their husband’s pension, if they got divorced. Unfortunately a present statistic is that a third of British marriages end in divorce within 15 years, this potentially leaves many women without any arrangements in place after a marriage ends and illustrates the precarious position that many women may find themselves in.
The obvious difference in retirement planning for women is that if a couple decide to have a family it will most likely be the woman who takes a career break to bring up the children. According to Wife.org women take an average of 10 years as a career break. Although it is becoming less common, some women have also chosen to be full time homemakers and have no income to put aside for a pension at all.
In cases where the husband is working and the wife is the homemaker, there needs to be an understanding on what provision is being made for retirement and also between the couple on how this pension pot could be split in the possible event of divorce. Another possible solution may be to discuss possible joint pension arrangements with their partner. Of the divorced women who took part in the Scottish widows’ survey, only 15% said their husband’s pension was considered as part of the settlement.
When it comes to later life and retirement, the most important thing for women is that they have a degree of control. This means making your own pension provision and fully understanding any joint pension provision with your partner. One solution may be for women to start approaching the whole question of their retirement in exactly the same way as men; independently and as soon as possible at the start of their working life and by having their own pension plans and investments, women will then have funds available for their retirement regardless of their marital situation.