Elderly women in kitchen cooking
Dylan Huang

Dylan Huang     |     
SVP & Head of Retail Annuities


We know from our own observations that gender can influence the way we see, experience and react to the world around us.

While those factors can impact many aspects of life, gender can play an especially powerful role when it comes to personal finances.

New data from New York Life points to the disparity between men and women and their attitudes about retirement preparedness. Not only does gender impact one’s feelings about their finances, but marital status also plays a role in shaping beliefs about a financial picture. The survey reveals that only 35% of women feel confident that their retirement savings will last for the rest of their lives compared with 53% of men. Further, unmarried women are the least confident in their retirement outlook (30%) compared to unmarried men (47%).There are more than just perceptions at play here. There are a few factors impacting women’s retirement readiness that could affect how they’re feeling about that phase of their lives. Let’s take a closer look at the unique challenges facing women as they prepare for their retirement.

Caregiving affects career opportunities.

Women are generally called upon to perform the role as caregiver for a parent or other family member more frequently than men. According to a recent study by AARP, 61% of caregivers are women.2 While we recognize this may take an emotional toll on the caregiver, it can also impact her career due to the necessity to modify work schedules or take time off. In fact, over half of working caregivers needed to reduce hours, work different hours and take a leave of absence (paid or unpaid).3 One’s career trajectory and earning potential can be significantly impacted by the responsibility to provide care to a loved one. This also reduces a women’s eligibility for Social Security benefits since those are based on a percentage of one’s monthly wages, using a 35-year base of earnings.4

Gender pay gap and the retirement wealth gap.

According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, women 65 and older had an average income that was 25% below the average income of men 65 and older.5 Lower salaries can translate into women having less money to put aside for their retirement, especially when you observe the long-term earnings differential. Further, fewer women (68%) have a 401(k) or similar retirement plan than men (81%) which puts them at a disadvantage for growing their nest eggs.6

Women’s longevity and its impact on retirement income.

Based on current life expectancy, many Americans will need to be adequately prepared to fund a retirement that could last decades. The average life expectancy for women is 85 ½ meaning that, for many women, they’ll need enough retirement income to cover their living expenses for twenty or even 30 or more years following retirement.7 One key component of those costs is health care spending. Due to their longer life expectancy, a higher percentage of women ages 65 and older are likely to need long-term care. 75.7% of residents in assisted living communities are women.8 In addition, for a married woman who outlives her spouse, there is a strong possibility that she’ll experience a depletion in the martial assets over time covering costs with a diminished nest egg. That burden will be particularly onerous if end-of-life care for a partner has put a strain on retirement assets.

While we all feel a bit uncertain about the future, for many women, there are additional factors that contribute to feelings of being unprepared to face the financial challenges of retirement. For women, the demands of family and workplace, as well as medical realities, underscore the importance of thoughtful and deliberate retirement planning that is tailored to your needs. Does your financial professional understand the unique challenges women face? Do you feel like an equal partner in the conversations? Does your financial professional ask about your family and important life events? These are important factors to consider when you work with a financial professional to make sure your retirement strategy is on track. If you don’t already have a relationship with a trusted financial professional, now is the time to find someone knowledgeable who takes your concerns seriously and can help you develop an approach that can help safeguard your financial future. 

About the author

Dylan Huang is senior vice president, Foundational Business Leader, and head of Retirement and Wealth Management Solutions at New York Life. In this role, he is jointly responsible for all aspects of New York Life’s career agency-sold businesses and directly oversees a portfolio of businesses comprised of Retail Annuities, Long-Term Care Solutions, NYLIFE Securities LLC (broker-dealer), and Eagle Strategies LLC (Registered Investment Adviser). In addition, Mr. Huang is a member on various senior management committees, including the Product Approval Committee, Capital Investment Committee, and Operating Expense Committee.

Mr. Huang began his career at New York Life in 2001 and advanced to leadership roles of increasing scope in the company's Life Insurance, Annuities, Agency, and Corporate Finance divisions. He is a recognized thought leader in the retirement industry for product development, patents, and award-winning retirement research and is frequently sought by members of the media for his insights on retirement topics. In 2021, Mr. Huang received the Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Award from the Asian American Business Development Center.

Mr. Huang is a member of The American College's advisory boards for its Center for Retirement Income, which elevates retirement income planning knowledge of financial service professionals to improve retirement security for Americans, and its Granum Center for Financial Security, which strengthens the financial services industry through knowledge and insight that professionals can use to help their clients achieve financial security. He also sits on the board of Virtual Enterprises International, an organization dedicated to providing middle and high school students with immersive business and entrepreneurial experiences.

Mr. Huang is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a member of the American Academy of Actuaries. He holds a Master’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of British Columbia.

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The surveys were conducted among a national sample of 2,200 adults. The surveys fielded first March 23-24, 2020, and again April 9-10, and April 21-24, 2020 were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, educational attainment, gender, race, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

2 AARP, National Alliance for Caregiving, May 14, 2020 https://www.aarp.org/ppi/info-2020/caregiving-in-the-united-states.html

3 AARP Family Caregiving and Out-of-Pocket Costs - 2016 Report

4 “Five things Every Women Should Know about Social Security,”  September, 2016. https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10044.pdf

5 Institute of Retirement Security, May 2020. https://www.nirsonline.org/reports/stillshortchanged/

Transamerica Retirement Survey, December 2019 https://www.transamericacenter.org/docs/default-source/retirement-survey-of-workers/tcrs2019_sr_19th-annual_worker_compendium.pdf

7 AARP, Caregiving in the United States, 2020. https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2020/05/infographic-caregiving-in-the-united-states.doi.10.26419-2Fppi.00103.002.pdf

8 American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance, https://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/il/fs77r_ltc.pdf