Money Woes More Likely to Affect Women

Women live longer on average than men and spend longer in poor health.Women live longer on average than men and spend longer in poor health.

Lower earnings, less secure employment, longer periods of ill-health and greater caring responsibilities leave women more at risk of financial difficulties than men, a comprehensive lifetime study has found.

Women are more likely than men to live to very old age, experience longer periods of ill-health and face higher average costs of personal and nursing care. But different choices, the balance of power and responsibilities within relationships, social norms and discrimination often leave women less resilient than men to these risks, according to the Chartered Insurance Institute, which represents the insurance and financial services industry.

The gap between the average pay of men and women is closely watched and widely discussed. But this is not the only way in which women are likely to be more exposed to the risk of financial insecurity in later life.

There are a number of differences in the risks men and women face. Women live longer on average than men and spend longer in poor health. Women aged 65 can expect to spend 2.7 years unable to carry out some daily tasks and a further 2.3 years experiencing some difficulty with those tasks, compared with 1½ and 1½ years respectively for men. Women are also more likely than men to suffer from dementia.

These factors mean women face on average higher costs of long-term care. Academics at the London School of Economics have estimated that women aged 65 can expect to pay £70,000 for care before they die, compared with £37,000 for men, an article on reported.

“Life is a risky business...but the risks that men and women face in life are not exactly the same,” said Sian Fisher, chief executive of the CII. “Both women’s risks and lack of resilience to risk are greater than men’s.”

  Wide Range of Evidence

The CII analysis brings together a wide range of evidence on men’s and women’s circumstances to examine similarities and differences in some of the main behaviors and risks faced across the life course. This includes employment and earnings, relationships, caring responsibilities and health.

Women are also more likely than men to provide unpaid care to elderly friends or relatives. Caring for an adult is most common among women aged 55-59, with a third of women doing so at this age. This compares with a quarter of men aged 60-64 caring for an adult — the age at which caring is most prevalent among men. These differences in experiences reflect a combination of personal choice, responses to social attitudes about caring, the way relationships work and, potentially, discrimination in the workplace. Taken together, they leave women less well-placed than men on average to save for a rainy day, for retirement or for paying for care in old age.

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