Fri | Oct 30, 2020

Retirement may be more costly for women

Published:Thursday | September 28, 2017 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder

Research done through the Mona Ageing & Wellness Centre at the University of the West Indies indicates that while women continue to outlive men, the men are making better preparations for retirement.

Women are dependent to a greater degree on family and are more unprepared, said researcher Julian McKoy Davis.

The findings presented Thursday by McKoy Davis at the annual pensions seminar hosted by Victoria Mutual Pensions Management and Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, also suggests that females might be facing higher retirement costs as their health challenges are worse than males after age 65.

From a 2017 study she conducted on financial preparations for retirement in Jamaica, the researcher said approximately four in 10 respondents had made no financial preparations for retirement and old age. And, the family was the main source of income among retirees.

McKoy Davis recommended investments in long-term care services, that the retirement age be extended, and that a mandatory savings programme for working Jamaicans be implemented.

Retirees are facing major health costs which are out of pocket expenses, inclusive of caregivers, diet/nutrition, medication and transportation, the Centre's research shows.

McKoy Davis noted that mobility issues will increase once chronic conditions increase. And that in turn increases the need for caregivers and other support services

Data from the centre indicates that while 49.2 per cent of men suffer from high blood pressure, 72.5 per cent of women do. Nineteen per cent of men are diabetic in retirement, compared to 32.3 per cent for women. Men who suffer from arthritis are 20.5 per cent of retirees, compared to 28.4 per cent for women. Men however had higher rates of cancer at 7.2 per cent, compared to five per cent for the women surveyed.

Retirees who listed the family as their main source of income were 54.7 per cent for women and 48.7 per cent for men. Overall, the researcher said, "women represented the highest level of nonpreparation".

Among those who said they had prepared for retirement, the methods used were mainly savings at over 67 per cent of respondents, pensions at 50 per cent, real estate at 30 per cent and insurance at five per cent.

"The level of dependence among retirees on family is troubling," McKoy Davis commented.

Overall, middle aged respondents were marginally more prepared - men 1.2 per cent and women 1.1 per cent - in comparison to older adults. Older adult women, 42.3 per cent, "were most financially unprepared for retirement as they made the lowest levels of preparations," the researcher said.

The centre's research also shows that slightly more than one in five older persons or 21.6 per cent, were still working, a half of whom were employed part-time.

Overall, the largest proportion of retirement income comes from family sources, 48.5 per cent; followed by National Insurance Scheme pensions, 23.7 per cent; and Government of Jamaica pensions, 15.4 per cent.

The researcher cited one of the top three fears related to ageing among respondents as financial problems. She also noted that 17 per cent of Jamaicans over 65 are living below the poverty line.