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When it comes to finances, are millennial women falling behind?

Mary Bright | January 18, 2022

Mary Bright,

Significantly fewer women than men say they feel positive about their financial situation (42% of women, compared to 54% for men).

Fewer women also feel very comfortable with the savings they have (36% vs. 46%).

These findings are from Standard Life’s Consumer Attitudes Report, Bringing retirement into focus: 2021, which surveyed around 5,000 people in the UK in August 2021.[1]

For both women and men, people aged 57–75 (baby boomers) feel most positive about their financial situation. Meanwhile, people aged 41–56 (Gen X) feel least positive.

Encouragingly, women and men aged 18–24 (Gen Z) feel similarly positive about their finances and their savings.[2] It is unclear whether this is because Gen Z is more equal, however, or simply because a divergence between men and women of this age is yet to develop.

Widening gender gap

When looking at people aged 25–40 (millennials) we see a 12% difference in how positively men and women feel about their financial situation (see Figure 1). This is a larger gender difference than for Gen X (8%) or Gen Z (1%).

This greater gender difference between millennials is also true with respect to how comfortable they feel about their savings (10% difference), a gap second only to baby boomers.

Figure 1: Millennial women feel less positively about their financial situation and savings than men.

In other words, an attitudinal divergence seems to occur between men and women between the age 25 and 40.

Is this the life stage at which many gender differences are most likely to develop? If so, is there a risk that female Gen Zers will be similarly disadvantaged as they enter their middle years? And what can employers and the pensions industry do now to mitigate the risk?

Pension providers and some larger employers have a lot of tools and other resources at their disposal with which to communicate with younger members and try to help improve their financial confidence. However, this will have limited impact unless we have the humility to continuously listen to and learn more about younger savers – and their changing attitudes and behaviours.

[1] In August 2021, Standard Life commissioned an independent online survey of nearly 5,000 people from around the UK. We supplemented this with focus groups to explore issues coming out of the survey in more depth. The research looked to cover a broadly representative sample of UK adults aged 18 to 80-plus, covering a range by income, savings, region, gender, ethnicity and other key attributes.

[2] Although Gen Z is typically defined as people born between 1997 and 2012, we only surveyed adults, so our Gen Z respondents were all born between 1997 and 2003 – that is, aged 18–24.

Mary Bright

Head of Social Affairs

Mary Bright is Phoenix Group’s Head of Social Affairs, and is also Specialist Policy Advisor to the UK government’s Business Champion for Older Workers. A breadth of experience in pensions and long-term savings enables Mary to link our soc […]

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Mary Bright

Head of Social Affairs

Mary Bright is Phoenix Group’s Head of Social Affairs, and is also Specialist Policy Advisor to the UK government’s Business Champion for Older Workers. A breadth of experience in pensions and long-term savings enables Mary to link our soc […]

Read Mary's blogs
Mary Bright,

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