Men and women have similar overall retirement plan participation levels, but full-time, full-year female workers may be more likely to participate than comparable male workers are.

Researchers at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, made that discovery when they analyzed 2007 U.S. Census Bureau data.

The researchers also found wide disparities in plan participation by age.

When they researchers looked at data for all workers, they found that about 42% of both men and women took part in a retirement plan if a plan was offered by their employers.

Among full-time, full-year workers, the participation rate was 57% for women and 54% for men, the EBRI researchers report.

Among workers ages 55 to 64, retirement plan participation was 57%, compared with 20% for workers ages 21 to 24.

Even among workers earning $50,000 or more, younger workers had a lower participation rate. The participation rate was 49% for workers ages 21 to 24, and 75% for workers ages 45 to 54.