Women Lag Men on Pensions

May 23, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Women 65 years old and older are about half as likely to have pension income as men. Those who do, get about half as much as men.

Those were among the conclusions of a new study of women’s pension status by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), The Gender Gap in Pension Coverage: What Does the Future Hold?

Analyzing data from the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), IWPR found that, overall, 44% of older working women do not expect to have a pension in retirement from any source compared with 36% of working men.

According to the IWPR, other trends in female worker pensions include:

  • part-time workers, who are disproportionately women, are much less likely to participate in employer-sponsored pension plans than those working full time,
  • because women tend to spend more time out of the workforce than do men, they’re less likely to get full pension benefits. The fact that, on average, women earn less than men just compounds the problem,
  • women are more likely to spend a lump-sum distribution rather than rolling it over into another qualified plan, with 27% of women and 36% of men completing rollovers, and
  • women get hurt in the case of a lump-sum pension payout because spousal consent isn’t required on how the money should be allocated

IWPR officials said women would benefit if lawmakers would consider how to extend pension coverage to part-time workers as well as how to shorten vesting periods. Women also need stronger rights after lump-sum distributions, the IWPR officials said.