Research from Legal & General1 has found that women are more vulnerable to the cost-of-living crisis. On average, working women are only 14 days away from the breadline in the event they lose their income.
This is significantly less than the average working man, who would be able to meet their household costs for 28 days. The household average stands at 19 days.
While the average working woman has comparable debts to men (£558 vs. £665), they have significantly less set aside in all their savings and investments (£1,801 vs. £3,214). With a daily expenditure of £90, calculations show that women would only be able to fund their household spending for two weeks with no income. On average, women overestimate their financial resilience, assuming they are 60 days from the breadline; this is compared to men who assume they have 90 days.
Women are considerably more likely to view the cost-of-living crisis as a ‘constant source of worry’ (78% vs 68% of men) and therefore take action to address it. Women are much more likely to be cutting back on luxuries (86% vs 76% of men) and reducing essential spending, where possible (72% vs 65% of men).
Why are working women closer to the breadline?
On average, working women surveyed have a lower median annual personal income (£23,245 vs. £31,070), likely due to a number of reasons. Statistics show that in 2021, the gender pay gap among full-time employees was 7.9%, up from 7.0% in 2020,2 signalling that women in full time employment continue to get paid less than their male co-workers. Similarly, working women are significantly more likely to be in part-time employment compared to men (31% vs 11% of men surveyed), with the expectation of domestic and caring responsibilities often placed on women’s shoulders.
The long-term impact for women
While the cost-of-living crisis has placed an emphasis on budgeting and financial planning, women’s financial wellbeing still faces considerable challenges in the long term. Research from Legal & General earlier this year showed that, on average, women’s pensions are half the size of men’s (£12,000 versus £26,000).3
“Throughout their lives, women face a number of challenges that can place them at a financial disadvantage compared to their male counterparts. This can include inequality of pay at work, taking career breaks, or taking part-time positions due to an expectation they will take on greater responsibility for family commitments. This often leaves them less financially resilient and in the context of the cost-of-living crisis, where everyone is feeling the pinch, it places additional pressure on their financial wellbeing. This can have an impact both in the here and now but can also contribute to inequalities in the long-term, such as with pension savings.
“With a significant strain on the nation’s finances, it’s important that everyone is aware of their financial situation to manage realistic expectations. It’s encouraging that women are more likely to be taking steps to address the cost-of-living crisis but it can be difficult to know where to turn for help. To help people better understand their money, and make informed decisions, we have put together a financial safety net content hub signposting free tools and resources available to help people.”
“Legal and General is actively involved in exploring solutions with government and industry, having reviewed its own gender gap and pledging to review it annually to ensure it is making progress. We are also calling for regulators and law makers to look at reform, such as further support to help families with childcare costs.”