Women worse off

Independent Age’s recent report on partner bereavement in older age, Good Grief, sets out some stark inequalities between how men and women experience life after the death of their partner.

Disturbingly, women’s household incomes typically fall after the death of their partner, while men tend to see their incomes increase. A 2008 study by the University of York found that women’s household income decreased by £34 per week and men’s increased by £12 per week and the number of older women feeling worse off financially doubled after the death of their partner.

Why the inequality?

This is largely reflective of the gender differences in pay and employment for today’s generation of older people. In the same study, women were found to be twice as likely as men to have lost their partner’s work-related disability benefit, and three times as many women as men lost their partner’s occupational pensions.

Pension savings are a key factor. In 2018, pension provider Aegon found that women aged 50 have on average only accrued half the pension savings of men: £56,000 compared with £112,000 saved by men.

What about in the future?

For future generations of pensioners, as increasingly both men and women are in paid work, this imbalance may readjust slightly. However, with a gender pay gap and women being more likely to take time out from work to raise families, this is about more than just both partners being in work.