Retirement Saving Less of a Priority for Women than Men

For most people, saving for retirement does not become pressing until their 40s or 50s, when it may already be too late to craft a realistic retirement income planning strategy. 

Sixty percent of men say that saving for retirement is their top financial priority, according to the Willis Towers Watson 2017 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey. In contrast, only 44% of women say the same. Instead, women say their top financial priority is meeting daily living costs (64%) and paying off debt (57%). The survey also found that for most people, saving for retirement does not become pressing until their 40s or 50s, when other financial needs have been met.

Seventy-eight percent said retirement security is an important issue, up from 52% in 2013. Among Baby Boomers, 87% said retirement security is an important issue, and among Gen Y employees, 71% said so.

While 57% said they are confident they will have enough financial resources to live comfortably 15 years into retirement, that is down from 69% in 2015. While 54% of men think they have enough resources to live 25 years into retirement, only 39% of women share this same view.

Thirty-seven percent of workers say they will work past age 70, up from 30% in 2015. Only 26% think they will retire before age 65, down from 29% in 2015. Struggling employees—those worried about their short- and long-term finances—are feeling the greatest pressure to retire later. Sixty-six percent of this group do not expect to retire before age 70. Thirty percent of the respondents were identified as struggling.

Seventy-four percent said they will be worse off in retirement than their parents, and 68% expect Social Security benefits to be much less by the time they retire. Another 66% think Medicare and Medicaid will also be pared back. Fifty percent expect to retire from their main job but find some other form of work before fully retiring.

“Saving for retirement is a significant challenge for the vast majority of working Americans,” says Shane Bartling, senior consultant at Willis Towers Watson. “Varying financial needs make it difficult for many men and women to build a retirement nest egg.”

Pat Rotello, senior consultant at Willis Towers Watson, says with more people planning to retire later, employers need to reevaluate their retirement plans and well-being initiatives. “In fact, it wouldn’t surprise us to see more employers develop and implement financial well-being programs to help their employees achieve their retirement and financial goals,” Rotello says.

Willis Towers Watson surveyed more than 30,000 private sector employees in 22 countries. In the U.S., the survey was conducted among 4,983 people last July and August.