Halifax research reports Men v Women - The economic and financial divide

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This is the Halifax review of key differences between men and women in terms of economic and financial behaviour. It is based on data from several sources, including the ONS, DWP and from within the Lloyds Banking Group, including Halifax, LTSB and Scottish Widows.

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Halifax has examined the behaviour and experiences of men and women in the labour market and in key areas of personal finance such as spending, savings, pensions and housing.

The key findings are:

  •     Men continue to be paid more but the gap has narrowed over the past decade Women are less inclined than men to think that they are currently living comfortably with a bigger proportion of women also reporting that money is tight
  •     Women are more likely to have an ISA but are less likely to have share related investments
  •     Women have higher savings balances
  •     Male pensioners are better off and men are making better provision for retirement Women are more likely to be homeowners and are less likely to be renting in the private sector
  •     Men are more optimistic about house price prospects Women are more pessimistic about becoming homeowners

Martin Ellis, economist at Halifax, said:
"Whilst the economic and financial differences between men and women have narrowed in recent years, significant variations persist. Some of these, such as higher homeownership amongst women, can partly be explained by demographic factors such as the greater number of older women compared with men.

"Women are more cautious regarding equity-related investments and are making less
provision for retirement. They are also more pessimistic than men regarding both short-term
house price prospects and the likelihood of ever becoming homeowners."

PAY AND JOBS
Pay: Men continue to be paid more but the gap has narrowed over the past decade
Men in full-time employment continue to be paid significantly more than women in full-time employment. In 2011, average male earnings were £36,511; 35% higher than average female earnings of £27,006.

The gap, however, has narrowed over the past decade as women's earnings have risen faster than men's. Women's earnings have increased by 43%, on average, in the last ten years compared with a 36% rise for men, reducing the premium for male earnings from 42% in 2001 (£26,841 against £18,847).

Employment trends: Substantial differences between men and women exist
There remain substantial differences between men and women in terms of their participation in the labour market:

  •     Women are less likely to be in employment than men - 54% against 64%.
  •     Men are more likely to be in full-time employment than women - 57% against 33%. Women are three times more likely than men to be in part-time employment (21% v 7%).
  •     Men are twice as likely to be self-employed than women (10% against 5%).

Both men and women have been badly affected during the current economic downturn, but unemployment has affected women particularly badly. The number of women claiming unemployment benefits has more than trebled over the past five years, rising by 212%, compared with a 163% increase in the number of men on the unemployment claimant count.

SPENDING BEHAVIOUR
Women, generally, are less inclined than men to think that are currently living comfortably (15% against 20%) with a bigger proportion of women also reporting that money is tight (44% compared with 38%).

Women (14%) are more inclined to say that they are spending a lot more than a year ago on household groceries than men (8%). More women report that they are spending a lot less than a year ago on going out and treating themselves – 26% against 20% - and a lot less on clothes (18% against 11%).

FINANCIAL BEHAVIOUR
Current accounts: Parity for men and women

Men and women are now equally likely to have a current account with 90% of both sexes doing so. Ten years' ago, women were slightly less likely to have a current account than men (82% against 85%).

Savings and Investments: Women more likely to have an ISA but less likely to have share related investments

A slightly higher proportion of women (34%) have an ISA than men (31%). Women, however, are less likely to have share related investments: stocks and shares (11% against 14%), unit trusts (2% against 3%) and company share schemes (1% against 3%).

Women are also less likely than men to be participating in a pension scheme with 26% doing so compared with 30% of men. This difference is entirely attributable to fewer women having a personal pension (3% against 7%), with 23% of both men and women participating in an employer-sponsored pension. (FRS T8.1)

Deposit based savings: Women have higher savings balances
Nationally, women just edge men with slightly higher overall average savings balances – £7,981 against £7,657; a difference of 4%. Regionally, the biggest differentials where women have a higher average savings balance than men are in the South East (6%) and East Anglia (5%). The only regions where men save more than women are Scotland (14%) and the North (1%).
Men are also more likely to have no savings, with 37% of single men reporting to have none compared with 30% of single women.

Despite having a higher uptake of ISAs, those women with savings in an ISA have a slightly lower balance than men, on average: 3% lower at £8,846 against £9,126.

Pensions: Male pensioners are better off and men are making better provision for retirement
Male pensioners have higher incomes than female pensioners on average. Single male pensioners had an average net income after housing costs of £240 per week in 2009-10 compared with £208 for single female pensioners – a difference of 15%.

Men are currently making better provision for their retirement than women with 49% of men currently saving adequately compared with 42% of women.

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