5 Challenges Women Face in Retirement

Published July 31, 2017
Women tend to live longer and therefore need to prepare more for retirement. And, with most couples, women aren’t very involved in retirement planning.
  • The wage gap has left women needing to make less money last longer
  • Women are finding themselves left in the dark on their personal financial situation in some cases
  • It’s important for women to have a grasp on retirement planning

Put simply, women have greater life expectancies than men do. The cause of this life expectancy gap is complicated, and likely not driven by one single thing. There are differences in disease development and prevalence, differences in stress and exposure to danger in the workforce, along with a number of other possible causes of the gender gap in longevity.

We’ve found five ways women are facing a number of unique hurdles in retirement.

  1. Women tend to earn less money than their male counterparts. Couple that with a greater life expectancy, and single women are left having to make less money last longer.
  2. Even for married women, making their money last after their husbands have passed is difficult. Consider the possibility of steep health care costs for the husband prior to his death, along with the woman’s own health care costs.
  3. In some cases, but certainly not all, women tend to give the role of financier to their husbands. This comes with a couple of implications. First of all, if a woman’s husband passes away before her, she may be completely in the dark about her financial standing. Secondly, if the husband was handling retirement planning completely on his own, the unique insurance needs of his wife may have been overlooked.
  4. When a woman’s husband passes away she is suddenly deprived of at least some of the benefits of his Social Security and pension plan.
  5. High divorce rates mean that a number of women are left to cover 100% of their expenses on their own, often with less income. It also can spell trouble if the woman had not thought independently about retirement planning prior to her divorce.

Although longevity risk poses a number of particularly scary obstacles for women, all in all the gain in longevity is an incredibly exciting thing for both genders. The important thing to keep in mind is that every individual, man or woman, should and can be informed about their personal finances and their retirement planning options.

Lauren Minches

Lauren Minches

Financial Planning Professional

Lauren is an actuary by training with expertise in retirement, finance, and risk. She writes about annuities to make them easier to understand and evaluate. Her goal is to help people create retirements with more time for living and less time thinking about money.