Although saving for retirement is critical for women - they live longer and make less money than men - women save 40% less than men, according to a new research study by LIMRA.

On Thursday LIMRA released a study, Gender Matters: Retirement Savings of Working Men and Women, which found that even when women and men have similar individual and household circumstances, retirement savings for working women is significantly less than men.

“Women's average defined contribution (DC) plan balances are only 60 percent of men's average balances,” said Cecilia Shiner, senior analyst, LIMRA's retirement research, in a statement. “This is especially concerning because women live longer than men and thus need more retirement savings. In addition to a longer average lifespan, women are more likely to have work disruptions for caregiving that hinder their capacity to save. Therefore, they need to capitalize on savings opportunities while they are working.”

The reality is that average DC plan balances of working women 50 years or older lag those of working men of the same age by almost $63,000, due in part to the fact that women defer contributing to retirement plans at a higher rate and earn less than men of the same age. This could be at least partially due to the fact that men are more likely than women to think retirement saving is important.

The good news is that younger women who are married or in civil unions seem to fare better. That is because the gap in their earnings is less significant than their older counterparts, according to the study, which was conducted in July and August of 2010 and surveyed nearly 2,500 employees, who did not work for the federal government or military, were not self-employed, and were eligible to participate in a DC plan.

Meanwhile, women’s financial knowledge seems to be an impediment to their savings as well. The study found that men are more likely to indicate that they are knowledgeable compared to women, with 29% of men in the study feeling knowledgeable compared to 14% of women. Yet that still leaves 70% of men feeling unknowledgeable about their finances – a crisis, which advisors can turn into an opportunity. And those who feel more knowledgeable tend to save more for retirement and monitor and manage their savings, the study found.

“As an industry, we have to do more to educate women on the importance of retirement saving and planning,” said Shiner.




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