Only 47% of Homemakers Are Saving for Retirement

Most associate retirement with insecurity and poverty.

Homemakers, either women or men, who devote their lives to taking care of their families and who do not work outside the home are at risk of an insecure retirement, Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS)  and Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement (ACLR) found in a survey of 1,600 homemakers in 15 countries around the globe. Only 47% of women around the world are saving for retirement, and that ticks down to 44% in the U.S.

Only 29% of homemakers consider themselves to be habitual savers who are continuously saving for retirement (30% in the U.S.). Fifty-one percent of homemakers, both globally and in the U.S., have no strategy for retirement, either written or unwritten. Only 11% globally have a written plan (8% in the U.S.).

The majority of homemakers (86% globally and 81% in the U.S.) are women. Eighty-eight percent globally (90% in the U.S.) are married, cohabitating or are in a civil partnership. And most (69% globally, 55% in the U.S.) are the parent of one or more financially dependent children.

It is no wonder, then, that when presented with a series of associations about retirement, only 60% of homemakers cite positive words, such as leisure, freedom and enjoyment, versus 71% of workers and retirees. In contrast, homemakers are more likely to cite insecurity, poverty and ill health.

Forty-eight percent of homemakers are not confident they will be have a comfortable retirement, compared with 42% of workers. Sixty-five percent of homemakers believe their spouse’s or partner’s income will be very or extremely important to them in retirement, compared with 41% of workers.

“Homemakers contribute greatly to their families and society, as parents, caregivers and role models to their children,” says Catherine Collinson, president of TCRS and executive director of ACLR. “Because their work is unpaid and comes without employer or retirement benefits, homemakers face even greater retirement risks than workers due to their reliance on others for income. It is a myth that only workers retire. Homemakers also need to plan and prepare for financial security in old age. For everyone, and especially homemakers, a separation, divorce or loss of a spouse or partner can be devastating, both emotionally and financially.”

NEXT: What can improve homemakers’ situation?

Transamerica cites five steps that homemakers, employers and governments can take to be better prepared for retirement. First, they should work with their spouse or partner to become involved in their family finances and seek out the help of a financial adviser. Second, they should seek out part-time work for the income and retirement benefits.

Employers should offer flexible work arrangements so that homemakers can juggle work and family responsibilities. They should also consider offering health and retirement benefits to part-time workers and contract employees. Finally, governments should consider offering credits for homemakers who are unable to pay into their social security system, in recognition of their unpaid work and contribution to society.

The full report, “Homemakers Are Not Off the Hook: How Should They Be Planning for Retirement?,” can be downloaded here.