In 2018, the government of Iceland passed a law making it illegal to pay women less than men. (1)
According to a World Economic Forum report, “At the current pace, gender gaps can potentially be closed in 54 years in Western Europe… and in 151 years in North America (reflecting lack of progress in the region this year).” (2)
A recent study by Economic Policy Institute found that women earn 74 cents for every $1 earned by a man with similar education and experience. This wage gap has always existed and is disturbing in a society founded upon equality and justice. (3)
This wage gap has important implications for women and their financial security, especially during retirement.
In addition to working, women play a central role in child rearing. EPI states, “Outside the labor market, mothers are also charged a time penalty… For example, among married full-time working parents of children under the age of 18, women still spend 50 percent more time than men engaging in care activities within the home.” The study points out, men are not penalized financially as children join the family.
“The study also found that the gap between men’s and women’s wages continues to widen as women grow older. The report noted that women between 55 to 64 earn about 23 percent less than men in the same age group, compared with a difference of just 2 percent for women and men between 16 and 24.”
On average a female worker loses $530,000 in a lifetime being paid less than male counterparts. College educated women lose even more, up to $800,000 in wages.
In addition to being paid less, women are prone to more risks that could compromise their financial security. A 2016 study by Pax World titled “Women and Wealth” examined some of these risks… (4)
Women who divorce find their household income cut on average by 41%.
700,000 women become widowed each year, at the average age being 55.
Women tend to outlive men by 5-6 years.
The pay gap also affects retirement savings for women… after 30 years of working women tend to have 30% less saved for retirement.
45% of women have no retirement plan at all.
The overall effect is women tend to have less money to work with in retirement, even though they are going to live longer.
Women face much more financial risk than men, and as a result must manage risk in a more proactive fashion.
They must protect against negative outcomes such as loss of a spouse or illness and disability.
They need to be more diligent in building up liquid savings and reducing expenses.
They must build flexibility into their financial plans to be able to deal with changing relationships and finances over time.
They need to build in guarantees to their retirement income so they don’t outlive their savings.
As caregivers they also tend to think about planning and protection more holistically so that dependents are protected.
This is a lot to take in for any person, man or women, but the truth is for women the stakes are particularly high.
One solution recently raised by Brookings Institution is Universal Basic Income. (5) The study concludes;
”In the 21st century labor market, the degree to which workers, their families, and their communities adapt… will depend on how public policy, private institutions, and businesses evolve to support them.”
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2020-93594 exp 2/22
- Women and Wealth, Pax World investments