Women suffering greater ‘financial anxiety’ than men, new study shows

Written by Lori Campbell on 29th Aug 2019

It’s well known that women still earn less and have less confidence in investing than men, and here at Good With Money we are passionate about highlighting the burgeoning pension gender gap that means most women will struggle to make ends meet as they grow old.

But now a major new study has revealed that women are far more anxious than their male counterparts about the effect of a post-Brexit economic slump because millions are already living on the financial edge.

An investigation by social and business think tank RSA (The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) and the Women’s Budget Group has found that more than 40 per cent of women in work would currently struggle to pay an unexpected bill of just £100, compared with 30 per cent of working men.

More than a third (38 per cent) feel that their job does not provide them with enough income for a decent standard of living, compared to just 24 per cent of men. This financial anxiety increases for the long-term, with 54 per cent of women feeling they don’t have enough savings for a comfortable retirement, compared to 37 per cent of men.

Financial precariousness

Female workers are significantly more likely to experience “financial precariousness”, than men, according to the ground-breaking new study that looks at how female empowerment could affect the future of work, the economy and British society as a whole.

Despite significant changes to the way gender-related pay differences are treated and reported, and major investment in schemes to help women achieve financial confidence, there remains a huge difference in the levels of economic security reported by men and women.

Numerous surveys still find women don’t feel they can afford to save for a financially stable retirement, despite the improvements to savings rates thanks to the workplace pension rollout. Short-term demands on their cash take priority when women do have some disposable income, especially when it comes to family needs.

Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson, director of the UK Women’s Budget Group, said: “This survey highlights the stark truth that for too many women, the economy isn’t working. Women have lower incomes than men, are less likely to progress in their careers and are more likely to be living in poverty at all stages of their lives.

“Working class, BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) and disabled women are particularly likely to face the economic insecurity revealed in this survey. But it doesn’t have to be like this – we can organise the economy differently.

“This report makes an important contribution to our Commission on a Gender-Equal Economy, which is working to proactively develop alternative economic policies to promote gender equality across the UK.”

Brexit caution

Separate research from KPMG has also found that men are much more cautious about their money in light of Brexit than women, with over a third of men changing their money management and only one in four women doing the same.

Twelve percent of men have delayed buying a new home or making renovations, almost double the number of women who have taken the same precautions.

The RSA report also highlights the dangers of new technologies exacerbating existing gender divides in the workplace, arguing that recent cases of women suffering from in-built bias in artificial intelligence systems require a “robust response” from policymakers and employers.

Left unchecked, “algorithmic prejudice” could become one of the new giants of modern poverty, the study cautions.

Campaign groups, the government and civil society should further pursue a ‘big push’ for women to join the STEM workforce, the researchers warn, calling for “informed discussion” about issues around technology, gender and work – to provide for an inclusive way of tackling these issues.

If you’d like to find out how to change your pension for Good, download our new Good Guide to Pensions for free.

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