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Closing the gender pension gap?

07/02/2020

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In 2018, women in the European Union (EU) aged over 65 received a pension that was on average 30% lower than that of men. However, over time the gender pension gap has been decreasing and is now 4 percentage points (pp) less compared with 2010 (34%).

Although women received lower pensions in all EU Member States, the extent of the gap varies widely. The largest difference was observed in Luxembourg, where women aged over 65 received 43% less pension than men. Luxembourg was closely followed by Malta (42%), the Netherlands (40%), Austria (39%), Cyprus (38%) and Germany (37%).

On the other hand, the smallest differences in pension income between women and men were in Estonia (1%), Denmark (7%), Slovakia (8%), Czechia (13%) and Hungary (16%).

 

Gender pension gap, 2018

Source dataset: ilc_pnp13

 

Compared with 2010, the gender pension gap has decreased in the majority of EU Member States. The most noticeable decreases were recorded in Greece (from 37% in 2010 to 25% in 2018, or -12 pp), Denmark (-11 pp), Belgium and Slovenia (both -10 pp) as well as in France (-9 pp). 

In contrast, the gender pension gap increased in seven EU Member States since 2010. The most significant increase was observed in Malta (from 22% in 2010 to 42% in 2018, or +20 pp), followed by Latvia (9 pp) and Croatia (4 pp), while it remained unchanged in Slovakia.    

 

1 in 7 pensioners at risk of poverty in the EU

In 2018, the proportion of pensioners aged over 65 at risk of poverty in the European Union (EU) stood at 15%, slightly above the figure of 14% in 2017, yet below the risk of poverty of working age population (16 to 64 years) at almost 17%. Unlike the gender pension gap, at-risk-of-poverty rate for pensioners has been rising gradually since 2013, when it stood below 13%, bouncing back in 2018 well above the level experienced in 2010 (14%).

 

At-risk-of-poverty rate for pensioners by sex in the EU, 2010 2018

Source dataset: ilc_li04

 

In the majority of EU Member States, the proportion of pensioners aged over 65 who are deemed to be at risk of poverty lies between 10% and 30%. The four countries with an at-risk-of-poverty rate above 30% in 2018 were Estonia (54%), Latvia (50%), Lithuania (41%) and Bulgaria (30%).

In contrast, the lowest rates in 2018 were recorded in Slovakia (6%), France (8%), Greece (9%), Denmark, Luxembourg and Hungary (all 10%).

 

At-risk-of-poverty rate for pensioners by sex in the EU, 2018

Source dataset: ilc_li04

 

Across the EU as a whole between 2010 and 2018, the proportion of female pensioners aged over 65 who were at risk of poverty was around 3 to 4 percentage points (pp) higher than the rate for male pensioners.

In 2018, the at-risk-of-poverty rate of female pensioners was more than 10 pp higher than the rate of male pensioners in six EU Member States: Lithuania (18 pp), Estonia (17 pp), Bulgaria (15 pp), Czechia (13 pp), Latvia and Romania (both 11 pp).

In contrast, three countries had at-risk-of-poverty rates which were higher for male pensioners than for female pensioners: Spain and Malta (both 3 pp) and Italy (1 pp).

 

Methodological note: 

Gender pension gap: The gender pension gap shows the percentage by which women’s average pension income is higher or lower compared with men. Pension income includes old age benefits, survivors’ benefits as well as regular pensions from individual private plans.

At-risk-of-poverty rate:

  • Individuals are identified as being at risk of poverty if their equivalised disposable income is less than 60% of the national median equivalised disposable income after social transfers have been taken into account.
  • The figures relate to all those aged 65 years or over living in private households who are pensioners (that is retired persons or people receiving a disability pension).
  • In the general population, the proportion of individuals identified as being at-risk-of-poverty in the EU in 2018 was 16%.

 

Further note: The European Union (EU) includes 27 EU Member States. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Further information is published here.

 

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