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Women’s retirement prospects are improving, but not enough

  • Women’s retirement readiness has seen limited growth over the past five years across the U.S. and other countries.
  • While women still face challenges to becoming financially independent — including lower wages and more time out of the workforce for care-giving — there are steps they can take to improve their security.
  • One key way to improve your retirement prospects: Make it a point to save as much as possible.
Premium: Middle aged woman holding piggy bank retirement savings Daniel Grill | Getty Images

When it comes to retirement, it’s no secret that women face an uphill battle financially.

And while women’s retirement readiness is improving, there’s room for much more, according to new research from the Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement.

Women around the world share the same three career challenges: a gender pay gap, time away from their careers, often due to caregiving responsibilities, and a lack of compensation for those responsibilities.

Taken together, that leads to long-term financial inequality, and even poverty in retirement.

Now, Aegon has found that women’s retirement readiness has improved a bit in the past five years.

The Aegon Retirement Readiness Index uses a scale of 0 to 10, with a high score considered between 8 and 10.

In 2014, women had a retirement readiness score of 5.5, which increased to 5.8 in 2019.

20200219 Retirement readiness index

While that’s an improvement, anything less than 6 is considered to be a low, said Catherine Collinson, CEO and president of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, which collaborated with Aegon on the research.

In comparison, men fare better, with their retirement readiness score moving from 6 in 2014 to 6.2 in 2019.

“The progress on women’s retirement readiness is encouraging,” Collinson said. “However, we still have a lot more work to do for women to become truly retirement-ready.”

Women around the world face similar retirement dilemmas, according to Aegon’s research, which surveyed 16,000 workers and retirees in 15 countries.

Among the countries that ranked highest in 2019 were the U.S. and Turkey, as well as emerging markets India, Brazil and China.

Women were more likely to score below average in certain European countries – excluding the U.K. and Germany – as well as in Australia, Canada and Japan. (Australia was added to the survey in 2015, so there is no five-year comparison data for that country.)

20200219 Womens retirement readines index