1 in 5 Women Are Facing Retirement Setbacks Due to Pandemic

1 in 5 Women Are Facing Retirement Setbacks Due to Pandemic

Women in the workforce feel panic and frustration over delayed retirement prospects
stressed out middle aged woman

The pandemic is contributing to a widening wellness gap between men and women. In particular, as the public health crisis lingers, women in the workforce are reporting burnout at twice the rate of men, as well as shouldering greater mental health burdens than most other groups of workers.

According to a new retirement survey from insurance and financial services company Nationwide, women's prospects for retirement are suffering, too. In the poll, which focused on retirement plan participants ages 45 and older, nearly a fifth of women reported that the pandemic has caused them to push back their plans for retirement.

Women are saving less for emergencies, retirement

Many adults have resolved to improve their finances in 2022, but some will have a more difficult time than others.

Retirement plan sponsors say the pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on women, with 70% reporting that female plan participants have been more financially impacted — and the numbers are there to back up their observations.

Here's how men and women respondents compare in terms of significant financial behaviors:

  • 47% of women are building an emergency fund, versus 59% of men
  • 50% of women are contributing to a 401(k) or an IRA, versus 58% of men
  • 39% of women are increasing their retirement plan contributions, versus 51% of men

With a growing number of women reporting that they may leave their jobs or downshift careers, the wealth gap could continue to widen.

Delayed retirement has big consequences

When it comes to retirement, 18% of women report that the pandemic has caused them to delay their future plans. But pushing back retirement has serious implications that reach beyond financial wellness.

According to the Nationwide survey, roughly a third (34%) of women overall report being worried about their current retirement plan status, with some saying they're frustrated (15%) or even panicked (10%). However, the situation becomes all the more grave for those who actually have delayed or canceled their retirement plans: 51% of these women say the decision has negatively affected their mental health, while higher percentages report feeling worried (45%), frustrated (54%) and panicked (16%).

But this survey isn’t the first to reveal that retirement delays have an impact on workers' mental health. In a 2021 report, also from Nationwide, one in four employees over 45 reported that they'd planned to delay or give up on retirement. Of those who had changed their plans, 48% said that doing so had negatively impacted their mental health. Some also reported experiencing lower morale (39%) and reduced productivity (23%).

Methodology: Edelman Data and Intelligence (DxI) conducted this online survey on behalf of Nationwide from July 19 to Aug. 4, 2021. Respondents included 500 company plan sponsors, 300 financial advisors and consultants and 1,000 plan participants ages 45 and older who work full-time and have access to an employer-provided 401(k), 403(b) or 457(b) plan.