Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ireland and Northern Ireland: Gender Inequality on Access to Pensions for Older Women Workers

Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI) has published a report finding that less than one in three female pensioners in the Republic of Ireland receive the maximum contributory pension and women in Northern Ireland receive on average just 68% of male pension. According to "Older Women Workers’ Access to Pensions: Vulnerabilities, Perspectives and Strategies," although the pensions systems in both Ireland and the United Kingdom has begun to address barriers to equal access by gender, women continue to experience differential access to pensions, and particularly occupational and private pensions.

The most important factor in explaining the lower pensions of older women is that they are unlikely to have been employed steadily (or at all) throughout their adult lives. According to a CARDI research brief based on the report and other relevant data, "in RoI showed that in 1983 less than a quarter of women aged 50-54 were in paid work, though this was true of 80% of men of the same age. By 2002 the number of women aged 50-54 in the labour market had doubled to 50.6%." While European data show the increase in labor force participation by older women, "it shows the very low base in 1994, with less than one fifth of older women in employment in seven countries, including RoI."

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.
Source: Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland News Release (February 23, 2012)

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