Study: Women Say Competing Priorities Hinder Retirement Saving

Although women live longer than men, many retire earlier than planned and few can save enough to reach the income replacement levels as men in retirement.

Retirement planning has been complicated by volatile markets and high inflation, but it may be worse for women, new Goldman Sachs data shows.

Many women struggle to save adequately for retirement in the face of competing responsibilities, according to the Goldman Sachs Retirement Survey & Insights Report 2022, Navigating the Financial Vortex: Women & Retirement Security.

The survey finds women more are more likely than men to say that competing responsibilities negatively impact their retirement savings efforts.

Goldman Sachs data shows 50% of women say their retirement savings are behind schedule, compared to 35% of men, 14% of women are very confident in being able to reach their retirement saving goals versus 27% of men who said the same and 33% of women are concerned they will not be able to reach their retirement goals, compared to 19% of men.

Time spent out of the workforce to care for children or family members is one important factor contributing to the retirement savings challenge for many women, the research shows. Two four-year periods out of the workforce — one mid-career and one later — can lower retirement savings by up to 35%, the survey finds.

“Women more often than men are forced to work part-time, spend time out of the workforce to care for young children and elderly family members, and juggle other financial priorities during their careers,” Candice Tse, global head of strategic advisory solutions at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, said in a press release. “This can make their journey to retirement more difficult and incredibly personal.”

The gender pay gap contributes to women being less financially prepared for retirement, the report noted. Bureau of Labor Statistics data showed that although women comprise 47% of the workforce, they earn 21% lower lifetime income than men, 2016 Joint Economic Committee research on gender pay inequality found, according to figures cited in the Goldman report.

Goldman research also cited that women’s lifetime retirement contributions, on average, are 30% less than men, Government Accountability Office data showed.

“Women must also navigate the added complexity of longer life expectancy and therefore, need their savings to last longer, putting more pressure on their retirement finances,” the report stated.

Although 47% of women respondents to the survey said they felt on track or ahead of schedule for their retirement savings, 64% of men said the same, the research shows.

While women in the U.S. live, on average, three years longer than men — according to a January 2021 Social Security Administration factsheet – they can be expected to need more savings for a comfortable retirement, yet among retired women, 58% report they collect 50% or less of their pre-retirement income, including Social Security, compared to 44% of men, the survey finds. Goldman Sachs research also shows 20% of women reached 70% of their pre-retirement income, versus 30% of men who reached this amount.

The survey also finds 61% of women retired earlier than planned — compared to 50% of men — with 66% who said they retired for reasons outside of their control: 29% cited health reasons, 16% to take care of family and 15% that their job was no longer available.

Goldman survey data also shows few women retired because they had reached a retirement savings goal, as 15% of women left the workforce because their “savings were sufficient to fund my retirement” versus 25% of men.

Data for the report was gathered for Goldman Sachs by Qualtrics Experience Management, among 1,566 respondents between July and August. Participants included 967 working individuals across generations and 599 retired individuals ages 50-75, with responses reported by gender for both populations.