26 March 2018

'New analysis reveals 'shocking surge' in gender gap in retirement incomes'

3 min read

Steve Webb
Royal London



Detailed analysis of newly published official statistics reveals a shocking growth in the gap between the retirement incomes of men and women, according to mutual insurer Royal London. The ‘Pensioner Income series’, published annually by DWP, provides a full breakdown of pensioner incomes over the last two decades and includes separate figures for single male pensioners and single female pensioners. The latest data is for 2016/17.

Detailed analysis of the figures shows:

- Ten years ago (in 2006/07) the average retired single woman had a gross income of £294 per week and her male counterpart had £325 – a gap of £31 per week; in 2016/17, the gap had nearly trebled to £85, with the average woman now on £316 per week whilst the average man is on £401 per week; women’s incomes have risen by just 7% in real terms over the period compared with an increase of 23% for men;

- Two main factors seem to be driving the growing chasm between men and women:

a) Earnings

Over the last decade, the real earnings of single women in retirement have largely flatlined and are actually now slightly down on ten years ago (£21 per week in 2006/07 v £19 per week in 2016/17). But for men, the average has more than doubled, from £17 per week in 2006/07 to £37 per week in 2016/17.

b) Occupational pensions

Whilst occupational pension incomes have risen for both men and women, there has been a particularly sharp increase for men. Women have seen their average occupational pension income rise from £58 to £81 over the decade, but men’s occupational pensions have shot up from £83 per week to £125 per week, stretching their lead over women.

Commenting, Steve Webb, Director of Policy at Royal London said:

"These figures reveal a shocking surge in the gap between men and women when it comes to living standards in retirement. Having a decent occupational pension and the potential to top up pensions with earnings are the two key factors in having a good income past pension age. Much more needs to be done to tackle the disadvantages faced by women in the later life jobs market as well as doing more to ensure women are building up better pensions in their own right in the future."

- ENDS -

For further information please contact:

Royal London Press Office

Note to editors

  1. The DWP’s annual pensioner income series statistics can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/pensioners-incomes-series-financial-year-201617. In addition to the main report, full statistical tables are also available which form the basis for Royal London’s research. 
  2. DWP provide data separately for couple pensioners, single male pensioners and single female pensioners. Since the published data does not show the male/female split *within* couples, this analysis relates only to single male and single female pensioners. In 2016/17 there were 3.1 million single female pensioners and 1.4 million single male pensioners. 
  3. All figures are in 2016/17 prices.

About Royal London:

Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, with funds under management of £117 billion, 8.8 million policies in force and 3,745 employees. Figures quoted are as at 30 June 2018.