Irish Life Health
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Irish Life
Irish Life the largest life and pensions group and fund manager in Ireland, employing 2,000 people and servicing one million customers.
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50% of women in Ireland don’t have the knowledge needed for pension success

Survey shows over 50% of women in Ireland don't have the knowledge needed for pension success

To live a comfortable life in retirement, a no regrets pension is essential.

It sounds simple, but the reality is that over half of the women in Ireland do not have sufficient pension knowledge, in contrast to one in three men. 

These eye-opening stats come from a nationally representative independent survey by Irish Life*.

Key pension findings for women in Ireland

Half of the people surveyed believe that men receive more in pension payments, and they're right. 

According to Irish Life's Pension Parity Report, there's a gender pension gap in Ireland with women likely to see circa €120,000 less than men on average from their pension pots, or a gap of 22%.

The survey results also reveal that only 29% of women are on track with their retirement savings, compared to 40% of men, so the majority of Irish adults are not yet set up for pension success.

45% of the women surveyed say that they have not started a pension due to affordability compared to 32% of men, while one in five people say they just haven't gotten around to setting up their pension yet. 

These worrying trends in pension awareness combined with the gender pension gap, mean that Irish women continue to be at a severe disadvantage in having a no-regrets retirement.

Why are women at a disadvantage when it comes to pensions?

Apart from affordability, one reason why women may be less knowledgeable about pensions are the low levels of participation in financial reviews. 

Of those surveyed, 66% of women have never had a financial review compared to 46% of men. Without this crucial knowledge, it's more challenging to make a pension plan tailored to your financial situation. 

Once you set up a pension, it's essential to think about what target you're working towards, so that you know what your end goal is. 56% of men surveyed know the figure they're trying to achieve, but only 44% of women have decided this, and there's work to be done educating people on this subject.

"This independent survey shows that women are missing out on the key knowledge required to have a no regrets retirement", says Teresa Kelly Oroz, Head of Public Policy & Governance, Irish Life. "They are already at a disadvantage based on the prevailing gender pension gap identified in our Pension Parity Report. It's now time to really amplify this conversation to make sure every woman has the information she needs to make informed decisions at every stage of her pension journey", she adds.

Aside from salary differences, there's another major factor that accounts for the pension shortfall encountered by women, and that's the amount of time spent in the workforce. Maternity and paternity leave can adversely impact a woman's pension as can reduced hours. In Ireland, women tend to live longer than men, and as so, their pension pots need to last longer.

How can regulation and corporate solutions bridge the gap?

Auto Enrolment, where an employee is automatically enrolled in a pension scheme after starting a new job, has been highlighted as one possible solution to the ever-growing gender pension gap. It received hugely positive support in the Irish Life survey with (88%) of adults saying they would support auto-enrolment, with attitudes similar in men and women. 

While Auto Enrolment is likely a long way off, companies operating in Ireland can do more to make changes to their corporate policies to help balance the burden of responsibility including paid maternity leave, enhanced paternity leave, corporate transitioning policies and commitments to diversity and inclusion.    

With just 25% of Irish people considering themselves knowledgeable about pensions, the pensions industry has a responsibility to help its customers make informed decisions about their future. They need to make it as simple as possible for people to engage with their pension and to provide them with relevant and timely messaging to empower them to take action.

Irish life Corporate Business have a dedicated team empowering employees to take action with their pension. To learn more – email

* Nationally representative survey of 1,000 people about their attitudes to pensions and investments in September 2020.