New research shows pension income inadequate for older women

Fewer than one in three female pensioners in Ireland receive the maximum contributory pension and two-thirds rely on non-contributory pension, leaving many women disadvantaged in later life, according to a new report.

The Older Women Workers' Access to Pensions: Vulnerabilities, Perspectives and Strategies report, was produced by NUI Galway and Queen's University Belfast with funding from the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI ).

The research highlights the issue of gender inequality in pension provision in Ireland, North and South. It underlines the vulnerability of older women and examines the factors that contribute to lower pension incomes among women, including labour force participation and time spent caring for dependants.

The report also looks at strategies used by older women and finds many depend on partners’ or husbands’ incomes for a secure future, even though they may well outlive them since women have longer life expectancies.

A research brief based on the report and other available data was also launched by CARDI, whose key findings include:

- women in the Republic of Ireland receive less than half as much from occupational pensions as men and their income from private pensions is only 60 per cent that of men (Central Statistics Office, 2011 ).

- women are almost four times more likely than men to be in part-time work.

- in the Republic of Ireland, twice as many men as women earn €50,000 or more per year (Central Statistics Office, 2012 ).

Nata Duvvury, co-director of the Global Women's Studies Programme at NUI Galway, one of the lead investigators of the report, commented: “Women are often the holders of low pay and part-time jobs which will dramatically affect their ability to build pensions. With the economic crisis, this particular group in society is being put under even more financial pressure and the long-term result looks set to be financial insecurity in older age.”

Roger O'Sullivan, director of CARDI, added: “With the number of women aged 65+ set to rise by more than half a million in the next 30 years on the island of Ireland, addressing low pension income among older women now and for future generations is vital.”

The full report and CARDI research brief based on the report and other relevant data is available at


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