Coronavirus pandemic 'exacerbates' pensions gender gap - Aegon

Almost one in six (15 per cent) women are likely to decrease their pension contributions in the next six months, compared to 10 per cent of men, research by Aegon has found.

Aegon emphasised that the pandemic has further "widened the gap" between men and women in relation to attitudes towards saving and investing, arguing that men have been more engaged and optimistic about investing compared to women.

Its research found that between March and July, when there where large fall in stock markets, almost half (47 per cent) of men said they considered this to be the right time to invest more money to benefit from a future recovery, compared to less than a third (31 per cent) of women.

Furthermore, more than half of men (54 per cent) checked the performance of their investments in the last 4 weeks, compared to 28 per cent of women.

The proportion of men who said they paid attention to the stock markets in July (48 per cent) was also more than double the rate for women (22 per cent).

The company emphasised that this could risk further widening the gender pay gap, as women could risk missing out on any recovery in the stock markets.

Aegon pensions director, Steven Cameron, stated: “Our research shows that lockdown has exacerbated the gap in attitudes between men and women when it comes to the amount they may save in future and their likelihood of investing more in the stock market to benefit from any recovery.

“Two of the key drivers for women to close the gender pensions gap is to put more into pensions and to take a little more risk with investments, particularly at younger ages, in the hope of boosting returns and benefitting from any recovery in the stock market.

“Unfortunately, our research suggests that women are more likely to cut back on pension saving over the next six months and less keen than men to invest in the stock market.

“If this is the case, the gender pensions gap is likely to increase just as there were encouraging signs it might be decreasing.”

He added: “While there will be tough times ahead for many, as we do see some semblance of normality returning, taking time to reassess finances and setting aside more money for the future can help to build greater financial security and wellbeing in both the short and long term.”

Whilst recent Lane Clark and Peacock analysis revealed a reduction in the state pension gender imbalance, a survey from Now Pensions revealed that the average pension pot for women, and particularly single mothers’, remains lower than their male counterparts.

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