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Report Finds Irish Women Need To Work Eight Extra Years To Match Men’s Pensions

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According to a new report by Irish Life, women must work an extra eight years on average to accumulate the same pension pot as their male colleagues. 

The study, which examined 130,000 members of defined contribution pension schemes managed by Irish Life, revealed a 22 percent gender pay gap between men and women. 

Eurostat figures also show that women typically take six years out of the workforce to care for children or other dependents.

This career interruption, combined with the pay gap, leads to a 36 percent pension shortfall for women at the normal retirement age compared to men. 

Despite women starting to save for retirement around the same age and contributing a similar proportion of their salaries, they still face a significant disparity.

Oisin O’Shaughnessy, managing director of employer solutions at Irish Life, said: "While the gender pay gap receives substantial attention, the gender pensions gap is less known and much larger.”

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The report highlights that women are three times more likely to work part-time than men, contributing to the larger pension gap. 

Additionally, women are twice as likely to earn less than €30,000 annually, while men are almost twice as likely to earn above €100,000.

This is the second pension parity report by Irish Life.

Shane O’Farrell, director of employer solutions, noted the latest findings show "no significant change in relativities" from the previous report five years ago. 

He said: "Some of the changes we were looking for back then have not happened yet.”

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OECD figures indicate that women are significantly more likely to experience poverty in old age, with 16.6 percent of women affected compared to 11.1 percent of men.

The report recommends ending mandatory retirement ages, a proposal echoed in the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment's recent report. 

It also suggests reforming rules to allow pension contributions for spouses or partners during unpaid leave and increasing flexibility in pension schemes to accommodate increased contributions upon returning from unpaid leave.

O’Shaughnessy said: "The answer to achieving gender pension parity cannot be women working for eight more years while men retire.”

A defined contribution pension pot is influenced by three factors: the amount saved, the duration of saving, and the investment return on those savings.

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