Retirement Likely to Be More Financially Challenging for Women Than Men

Retirement Likely to Be More Financially Challenging for Women Than Men

It’s all about the money, honey. In April [2018], the Census Bureau released data comparing men’s and women’s 2016 median earnings in over 300 occupations. In nearly all occupations, women earned less than men. Overall, women’s median 2016 earnings equaled $40,675, while men’s median earnings equaled $50,741-nearly 25% more!

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However, the gender pay gap varies among occupations. The widest gender pay gaps were in financial management and sales (real estate brokers, real estate sales agents, insurance sales agents), and in occupations predominated by male workers (software developers, civil engineers, supervisors of construction trades). Conversely, gender pay gaps were narrowest in occupations predominated by female workers (registered nurses, payroll clerks, secretaries, administrative assistants, medical assistants, hairdressers, childcare workers, housekeeping workers). Interestingly, there was almost no gender pay gap among pharmacists, licensed practical nurses, licensed vocational nurses, medical assistants, and bakers.

Since I am a female lawyer, I could not resist checking out the Census Bureau’s stats on my own profession. No surprises there. While male lawyers earn roughly 10% more than female lawyers at younger ages (under age 35), this gender pay gap widens by mid-career (ages 45-54) when male lawyers’ median earnings exceed female lawyers’ median earnings by nearly 29%! [More gender gap info at]

Because women earn less than men in nearly all occupations, they will not be able to save as much for retirement. The gender pay gap also means their Social Security retirement benefits, which are based on the highest 35 years of earnings, will be lower. Further, women will need to make their lesser retirement funds last longer because they typically outlive men by 2-3 years, depending on race and ethnicity. Collectively, these factors mean that women are likely to be less financially secure in retirement than men.

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