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17 Surprising Facts About Women and Retirement

Recent research sheds light on unique vulnerabilities and considerations that women face when planning for their retirement.

Recent research sheds light on unique vulnerabilities and considerations that women face when planning for their retirement.

The report, Seventeen Facts About Women’s Retirement Outlook from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS), shows that only about one in ten are “very confident” that they will be able to retire comfortably. At the same time, more than half are “guessing” at the amount they will need to save in order to feel secure in retirement. Household retirement savings is $34,000 (estimated median) and more than two-thirds indicate that they have no back-up plan if forced into retirement sooner than expected. Four out of five are concerned that Social Security will not be available to them when they are ready to retire.

“Today’s women are better educated and enjoy career opportunities that our grandmothers’ generation could only dream about. Nevertheless, women continue to encounter challenges including lower pay, time out of the workforce for parenting or caregiving, and longer life expectancies that all contribute to unique challenges in  adequately saving for retirement,” says Catherine Collinson, president of TCRS.

“The facts are startling and clear. Women must begin taking greater control and gain an understanding of their true retirement outlook,” said Collinson. “By confronting challenges head-on, women can acquire essential knowledge about how to achieve financial security and create plans that can help mitigate risks and steer them on a course for financial security and a more positive outlook for their retirement ambitions.”

The Seventeen Facts About Women and Retirement

  1. Only 10 percent of women are “very confident” in their ability to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle.
  2. 53 percent of women plan to retire after age 65 (40 percent) or not at all (13 percent).
  3. Half (50 percent) plan to work after they retire.
  4. Are women being proactive steps to continue working past age 65? While 62 percent say they are staying healthy, only 54 percent are focused on performing well at their current job and 42 percent are keeping their job skills up to date.
  5. Most women (64 percent) do not have a backup plan if forced into retirement sooner than expected.
  6. 72 percent are saving for retirement through a workplace plan and/or outside of work in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), mutual fund, bank account, etc. Women started saving for retirement at age 28 (median).
  7. 47 percent expect their primary source of retirement income will be 401(k)/403(b) accounts/IRAs, and/or other savings and investments, while 27 percent expect to rely on Social Security.
  8. 68 percent of women are offered a 401(k) or similar employee-funded retirement plan. However, 26 percent work part-time and are therefore less likely to have workplace retirement benefits.
  9. 75 percent of women who are offered an employee-funded plan participate in the plan and contribute 6 percent (median) of their salary to the plan.
  10. Women believe that they will need to save $500,000 (median) in order to feel financially secure in retirement; among those who estimated their savings needs, 56 percent say they “guessed.”
  11. Women’s total household retirement savings is $34,000 (estimated median).
  12. Women’s emergency savings is just $2,000 (estimated median).
  13. 57 percent of women say that having access to information that is easier to understand would motivate them to learn more about retirement.
  14. Only a quarter of women (25 percent) are aware of the Saver’s Credit tax credit.
  15. 38 percent of Baby Boomer women say they know a great deal or quite a bit about Social Security.
  16. 82 percent of women are concerned that Social Security won’t be there for them when they are ready to retire.
  17. Women’s number one retirement priority for the new President and Congress is fully funding Social Security by implementing reforms so that it can continue to pay future generations of retirees (59 percent).

TCRS’ report and fact sheet also offer eight action steps women can take to begin improving their retirement outlook.



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