Between a man and a woman with similar backgrounds, it’s the female who will have to work harder to ensure that her assets don’t run out before her time on Earth does. The good news, though, is that women are more likely to save than men, and they're saving a higher percentage of their wages. According to Ahu Yildirmaz, head of ADP Research Institute, the efforts of financial advisors and agencies to raise awareness among women of the importance of savings have apparently made an impact.
What are some of the factors that are forcing women to focus more on their financial future than men?
1. Longevity. This one is simple: women live longer than men. In the most recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, life expectancy in the United States is 76.4 years for males and 81.2 years for females. By age 85, there are roughly six women to every four men.
2. Caregiving. Women are not only caring for their children, they are also caring for aging parents. Few plan for it. Women often don’t realize the emotional and financial toll that caregiving can take. For generations, women have been expected to be wives, mothers and community volunteers. The financial impact doesn’t simply come with the costs associated with these stereotypical roles but the caregiver’s inability to focus on a more lucrative career.
3. Income Inequality. A report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers shows that, although women are increasingly becoming more educated and make up a larger portion of the country's workforce, they consistently earn less than men, even when they have similar levels of education. Maternity leave, balancing home and work, and limited ability to travel are also considered challenges to women’s rise in management.
4. Education Misconceptions. It is important to realize that in order to tip the scales toward women in the workplace, there has to be a change in the perception of women, not in their qualifications. Over the past decade, we have seen dramatic increases in the education level of females, to the point where women now outnumber men in institutions of higher learning and graduate at higher levels than men. Organizations are simply overlooking women for higher-level positions.
5. Health Care Costs. Women pay more for health benefits and receive less coverage, according to researchers at Mercer L.L.C. And, since women tend to use health care services more than men, the disparity in benefit levels has an even greater impact on them financially.
Whatever is motivating women to identify these obstacles and overcome them—whether it’s the fear of ending up alone or the simple fact that women are learning to accumulate wealth without the guilt and fear they traditionally experienced—we’re glad to see it happening. Proper planning can help develop ways to adequately address these concerns and narrow the disparity of the risk associated with women outliving their assets before men.