Men Feel More Educated About How to Plan for a Secure Retirement

Men also think about retirement more often than women, and talk about it more frequently with work colleagues, a study finds.

Results from a OneAmerica survey, the company’s second poll in three years that examines the role gender plays in retirement readiness, found men self-scored themselves as having a significantly higher level of knowledge than women across 10 personal finance and retirement topics, including student loans and taxation on Social Security benefits.

On broad topics such as addressing pre-retirement debt, men and women showed the same propensity to avoid taking loans or hardship withdrawals, at about 71%. When it comes to retirement plan features, men and women both placed the highest priority on a common workplace perk—an employer match on the employee’s contribution to the 401(k) or retirement plan being offered. It was ranked No. 1 by both sexes, followed by having investment options.

However, women are more likely to place higher importance on the employer match (64% vs. 61% of men), and men are more likely to place importance on investment options (29% vs. 21% of women).

Men think about retirement more frequently than women. Sixty-nine percent report thinking about it at least monthly, compared to 55% of women. Men are also significantly more likely to monitor their retirement plan more frequently. More than half do so monthly (53%), compared to 36% of women. While both men and women indicate that knowing their status against goals is important, men are more likely to say “very important” (54%) than women (48%).

Two substantial differences in planning triggers were revealed by the survey. Men are more likely to discuss retirement with work colleagues (29%) compared to women (22%) and to cite a story in the news or media (16% of men vs. 11% of women) about retirement.

“We’ve known for quite some time that men and women don’t just think about retirement differently, they also talk about it differently,” says Marsha Whitehead, vice president of marketing for retirement services for the companies of OneAmerica. “By understanding these differences, plan sponsors can tailor their education programs to increase the influence they have on male and female participants.”

From August 27, 2015, through January 31, 2016, OneAmerica conducted an online survey of retirement plan participants asking questions about their planning triggers and motivations, education and resource preferences and what roadblocks to retirement they may encounter. Responses were nearly split—5,424 women and 5,331 men.

Additional results of the OneAmerica survey will be released throughout the summer. More information may be downloaded from here.