Do Men or Women Retire Better?
Retiring on Mars and Venus and the Disadvantages of Both
In 1993, Dr. John Gray’s Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus rose to #1 bestseller status because it helped us understand some of the very real differences between the way men and women approach communication, relationships, and life in general. Instead of a “one size fits all approach,” Gray told us, we need to pay attention to the unique strengths and needs of each gender.
When it comes to retirement, the differences between women and men don’t fade away. Instead, they may intensify.
In general, women seem to be less prepared financially, but more prepared emotionally for retirement. Men, on the other hand, have an advantage from higher average lifetime earnings but face significant dangers because they tend to be less equipped to handle the emotional and social changes retirement brings.
Financial Retirement Disadvantages for Women
- Her money must last longer. On average, women live about five years longer than men.
- Her money may not grow as fast. Women trend toward investing more conservatively than men.
- She often spends less of her available money on her own future. Women tend to surpass men in generosity, giving more time and money to family and favorite causes, leaving less available for retirement.
- She must commit a higher percentage of her wages to retirement savings. Because the average pay for a woman still trails pay for a man, she often must commit 25 percent more of her wages to achieve the same potential retirement savings, dollar for dollar.
- Her lifetime earning potential is often reduced due to career gaps. A woman is more likely than a man to take career breaks for child and elder care, reducing her lifetime earning potential both in terms of time and advancement.
Social Retirement Disadvantages for Men
- His social circle is often concentrated in his career community. A man’s social connections tend to be concentrated around his work, while a woman tends to have friends from more sources and keeps closer relationships with family.
- His feeling of purpose and identity is often more tightly connected to job achievement. Because a man is, in general, less involved with his community than a woman is, his sense of well-being is more related to his career than hers.
- He is much more likely to suffer isolation and depression in later life. Men often make creating and maintaining meaningful relationships a lower priority. His self-image of toughness and rugged individualism wars with his growing need for sustaining community.
- He is more likely to encounter health-related issues at a younger age. A man tends to have fewer regular medical checkups than a woman. As a result, he is susceptible to higher incidences of illness and mortality.
- His suicide risk goes up. One of the fastest growing demographics for suicide is men over the age of 65. Many men simply cannot cope with the feeling of being alone and the loss of identity associated with retirement.
And the Winner Is?
Whether you’re a man or a woman, retirement brings new challenges. Neither gender has the full advantage, and we have a lot we can learn from one another.
Retirement is about much more than money. It’s also about how we live with purpose as our bodies and relationships change. It’s about how to keep moving ahead when everything around us seems to be telling us to stop.
The winner between the sexes is the individual, man or woman, who realizes that retirement is what you make of it. You can slowly decline. Or you can design your greatest encore.
How Will You Keep Moving When the World Is Telling You to Stop?
About the author – Andy Raub is known as “America’s Encore Coach” because of his passion to help retirees repurpose their lives and reorganize their money. Andy is the author of the new book The Encore Curve – How to Retire with a Life Plan That Excites You and the founder of the Encore Curve Program. See how The Encore Curve process can help you clarify your life and simplify your money at EncoreCurve.com