Women’s pensions at retirement are half the size of men’s (£12,000 versus £26,000), regardless of the sector they work in. More than a third (38%) of women who have taken a career break did not know the long-term financial impact it would have on their pension. Legal & General is calling for all companies and pension providers to disclose their gender pensions gap, to raise awareness of it and work together to help close it across all sectors.
28 Jul 2022
Analysis1 of more than 4.5 million savers has found that that every single industry in the UK has a gender pensions gap, even those dominated by female workers.
On average, women’s pensions are half the size of men’s (£12,000 versus £26,000). Considering women are likely to live four years2 longer than men, this issue deepens as they need to have saved around five to seven per cent more at retirement age.
The study by Legal & General found the gender pensions gap exists regardless of average pay across different sectors, and ranges from a gap of 59% in the healthcare industry, to 13% in courier services.
The healthcare (59%), construction (51%), real estate/property development (48%), pharmaceutical (46%), aerospace, defence and government services (46%), and senior care (45%) sectors were found to have the largest gender pensions gaps. Of these six sectors, three are key industries for female employment – healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and senior care3.
Top sectors for female employment and their pensions gap
Leisure Travel & Tourism
Source: Legal & General analysis of workplace member data from defined contribution pension schemes, 2022
There are many reasons for the gender pensions gap, ranging from women holding fewer senior positions and being paid less, resulting in lower pensions contributions, to the fact they are more likely to take career breaks due to caring responsibilities. Of those that have taken a career break, 38% did not know the financial impact it had on their pension contributions4.
Another potential driver is a significant gender confidence gap when it comes to managing pension pots. More than a quarter (28%) of women said they had confidence in their ability to make decisions about their pension, compared to almost half (48%) of men5. This lack of confidence extends further to other financial decisions, with women less likely than men to feel confident managing their investments (22% of women versus 41% of men), and their savings (56% of women versus 67% of men).
Katharine Photiou, Commercial Director of Workplace Savings at Legal & General: "We looked at data from over four million workplace members and found that every industry in the UK has a significant gender pensions gap. This is a serious issue in itself, but it deepens when life expectancy is taken into consideration too.
“We’ve all heard about the gender pay gap, but very few discuss the gender pensions gap, despite the fact so many women experience it. This shows more needs to be done to boost engagement with pensions, particularly with those who feel less confident, and who may need help on where to start when it comes to making financial decisions.
“Millions of people would benefit from a wider range of support services to make more informed decisions about their savings and investments. But this support needs to be personalised to achieve any real shift, and this is where government and industry need to work together. Pensions can seem complicated but they're just a regular savings plan with some tax perks. We need to demystify pensions and get back to basics.”
Legal & General is calling for all companies and pension providers to disclose their gender pensions gap, to raise awareness of it and work together to help close it across all sectors. For full details on Legal & General’s suggested solutions to close the gender pensions gap, please see notes to editors*.
Rita Butler-Jones, Co-Head of Defined Contribution at Legal & General: “It is striking that some of the sectors where we see the highest gender pensions gaps - such as senior care, healthcare and pharmaceuticals – are also among the top sectors for female employment. This demonstrates the extent of the crisis facing many women as they approach retirement, even in careers where they make up the majority of the workforce.
“There is therefore a real need for providers, schemes and government to work together to understand and tackle both the sector-specific and structural barriers which women face in saving for their future.”
While many factors behind the gender pension gap are out of most people’s control, there are some actions you can take to help reduce it:
• Contribute as much as you can to your pension - and start early. Compound interest remains hugely underrated and poorly understood by both men and women.
• Check the charges on your historic pension pots. See if consolidating your pots will bring them down.
• Plan for a future full of Saturdays. Everyone underestimates how much they'll need.
• Likewise, check how much your State Pension will be and when you'll get it. If it's not going to support your ideal lifestyle, plan how you'll cover any shortfall.
• Put a bit more into your pension whenever you get a pay rise.
• Talk through your pension planning with your partner. Make sure you know about each other’s saving plans, contribution limits and that you are both on the same page.
• Carry out a regular Midlife MOT. It'll help you see how your finances are doing, and allow you to check in on your work and health wellbeing too.
• Make use of free support like the MoneyHelper or Retirement Living Standards websites. You can also check out our own planning tools.
• Keep a regular eye on your pension to make sure you're in full control of it and saving for your ideal future.
1The analysis is based on LGIM’s proprietary data on c4.5 million defined contribution members as at 1 April 2022 but does not take into account any other pension provision the customers may have elsewhere.
2 ONS: Life expectancy at birth in the UK: 82.9 years for women vs 79 years for men; Office for National Statistic, 2018 to 2020. Average four years.
3 According to the ratio of female members across the Legal & General book of business
4 Legal & General Insight Lab survey of 2,135 workplace members was conducted 4 - 26 July 2022
5 Opinium survey of 2,001 UK adults was conducted between the 4th and 8th February 2022
* Legal & General (L&G) is actively involved in exploring solutions with government and industry
• L&G recognises that urgent action needs to be taken now and is calling for all companies and DC pension providers to publicly disclose their own gender pensions gap, so that all stakeholders can understand the issue and work to fix it.
• L&G has reviewed its own gender pension gap and will monitor it annually to ensure it is making progress, by reviewing internal support, processes and policies to make changes such as better support for menopause and a review of paternity and shared parental leave. Current analysis shows that there is a 60% gender pension gap for L&G retirees at the point of retirement with an average gap of 32% for current savers.
• In addition to disclosing its own gender pension gap, L&G is committed to raising the profile of the gender pension gap across the companies it invests in and will continue collating data in order to include it in its stewardship activities going forward, as well as working with regulators, trade bodies and other providers on longer term solutions.
• Going further, L&G has created a working group with 14 of its largest clients with 535,000 members and assets of over £7bn, to help them tackle inequality in their own pension schemes by the end of 2022 and plans to expand this group further in 2023.
• In terms of regulatory reform, L&G submitted a number of recommendations to the Work & Pensions Select Committee in January 2022 as part of the Pension Freedoms Consultation, including:
Established in 1836, Legal & General is one of the UK's leading financial services groups and a major global investor, with over £1.2 trillion in total assets under management* of which 39% is international. We have a unique and highly synergistic business model, which continues to drive strong returns. Legal & General provides powerful asset origination and management capabilities directly to clients, which also underpin our leading retirement and protection solutions. We are a leading international player in Pension Risk Transfer, in UK and US life insurance, and in UK workplace pensions and retirement income. Our purpose is to improve the lives of our customers and create value for our shareholders. Through inclusive capitalism, we are investing in long-term assets, such as real estate and infrastructure, that can help build a better society for the future.
Legal & General Retail helps create brighter financial futures for all our customers. The division covers the savings, protection and retirement needs of our c.13 million retail policyholders and workplace members.
In 2022, we had total individual annuity sales of £954 million, and issued £632 million of Lifetime Mortgages and Retirement Interest Only Mortgages. Our Workplace pension platform served 4.9 million members, while our Protection businesses gave peace of mind to more than 6.3 million UK life insurance, 1.8 million group and 1.5 million US customers, taking in £3.1 billion of gross written premiums.
*at 31 Dec 2022