Study Reveals Gender Gap in Pension Benefits

By Staff Report

Jan. 28, 2008

Employment-based pensions received by men typically are much higher than pensions received by women, but the gap is likely to narrow somewhat in the future, according to a study released Thursday.

The study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington found that 44.6 percent of men age 65 and older received an employment-based pension during 2006, with a median benefit of $17,200 annually. By contrast, only 28.4 percent of women received a pension, with a median benefit of $11,142 a year.

The reason for this gender disparity is that older women tend to spend less time in the workforce than their male counterparts, as well as have lower-paying jobs, according to the EBRI study. Those circumstances directly affect the size of their pension, since the benefit is largely based on income and years of service. Additionally, defined-benefit plans typically require employees to work five years before they are fully vested in a benefit.

While younger women still, on average, spend less time in the labor force than younger men and tend to earn less, today’s younger women on average will work longer than women who were 50 or older in 2006, according to the study.

As a result, younger women will be more likely to earn a pension and the amount they earn will increase over time as younger generations of women retire, the study found.

Filed by Jerry Geisel of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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