HTLF Retirement Plan Services
Women and Retirement: Expectations Met or Missed?

In general, women are less confident than men about their ability to retire securely. More differences emerge when comparing women by marital status.

As of late March 2020, the number of Americans expressing confidence in their ability to live comfortably in retirement was at near-record highs. Of course, since that time pandemic-related market flux may have changed the numbers. Because many surveys covering retirement are conducted only once a year, with results released several months after the information is gathered, we won’t fully understand the impact on retirements for some time.

Still, one study conducted early in 2020, the 30th Annual Retirement Confidence Survey conducted by the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) and discussed in their Issue Brief dated June 8, 2020, provides some interesting information. Companies striving to help women achieve a secure retirement may be particularly interested.

Women face different challenges in saving

While overall retirement confidence was high, women expressed less confidence in their future retirement security than their male counterparts. The problems women face in preparing for retirement tend to be different than are those of working men, the study says. Often, women earn less than men do, they take breaks from the workforce to handle parenting and other family responsibilities, and they often live longer.

Differences also evident by marital status

The results may be further broken down by marital status. Among married working women, 76% said they are very or somewhat confident they will have enough money to retire comfortably. In comparison, 43% of divorced women and 51% of never-married women expressed the same level of confidence. The disparity seems to also be due, at least in part, to lower levels of assets held by each group. About 72% of divorced women reported less than $25,000 in retirement assets, compared to 54% of never-married women. Add debt to the equation — where 74% of divorced women and 67% of never-married women said debt is a problem — and it’s easy to see why women are less confident.

To help close the confidence gap, EBRI suggests that more specialized information and help planning for retirement, and even with everyday financial issues, is needed. Women who are dealing with the financial fallout of a divorce or the death of a spouse may need particular attention. When reviewing your service providers, this could be a good topic to explore. How do the provider’s communication materials address the varying situations faced by your workforce? Can the materials be targeted to different groups? By working together to find these answers, the gaps may start to shrink.


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Heartland Retirement Plan Services are offered through Dubuque Bank and Trust Company. The information provided herein is general in nature and is not intended to be nor should be construed as specific investment, legal or tax advice. The factual information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed as to accuracy or completeness. Heartland Retirement Plan Services makes no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by its use and disclaims any liability arising out of your use of, or reliance on, it. Products offered through Heartland Retirement Plan Services are not FDIC insured, are not bank guaranteed and may lose value, unless otherwise noted.

Kmotion, Inc., 412 Beavercreek Road, Suite 611, Oregon City, OR 97045; 877-306-5055;
© 2020 Kmotion, Inc. This newsletter is a publication of Kmotion, Inc., whose role is solely that of publisher. The articles and opinions in this publication are for general information only and are not intended to provide tax or legal advice or recommendations for any particular situation or type of retirement plan. Nothing in this publication should be construed as legal or tax guidance, nor as the sole authority on any regulation, law, or ruling as it applies to a specific plan or situation. Plan sponsors should always consult the plan’s legal counsel or tax advisor for advice regarding plan-specific issues.