A Penn Mutual Life Insurance survey, just in time for Mother’s Day, has found that women, single and married, continue to underestimate the value of the work they do at home — a habit that can have serious financial repercussions.
The third annual Worth for Women survey asked men and women to put a dollar value on the work they do away from their jobs. Both groups put the dollar estimate at around $25,000 a year. Yet, when Penn Mutual calculated the value of the actual hours reported doing household jobs, such as laundry, childcare and meal preparation, it found men overestimate the value of what they do by almost 13%, while women drastically underestimate their worth.
When the actual median value of services was computed, Penn Mutual found a woman’s contribution to the home was $34,256 a year, versus $19,322 for a man. Mothers of minor children were most likely to underestimate their worth, which is $44,913 a year according to Penn Mutual’s calculations. Yet, 52% of these women undervalued themselves by at least $10,000; 36% did so by at least $30,000.
The estimation difference can have serious consequences when it comes to insuring a family.
“As a life insurance company, we often see evidence that women underestimate their value to their families — with serious or tragic consequences when that work has to be replaced by outsiders after the untimely death of a wife or mother,” says Tracy Marrocco, director of women’s marketing for Penn Mutual. “Far too many families fail to account for this value, leaving women uninsured or underinsured.”
The survey also found that women own significantly less coverage than men do, with the median individual coverage amount being $100,000 for women, but $150,000 for men.