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Women and Men Give Differently in Retirement

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A new report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute shines a light on an aspect of retirement that has been largely overlooked until now: how gender differences affect charitable giving and volunteerism at this stage of life.

The research found that most households decrease their overall spending around retirement, but generally maintain charitable giving levels — with gender differences.

Single women and married couples are likelier than single men to give, give more and give more consistently and also to volunteer at this time in their lives.

(Related: Retirees to Add $8 Trillion to Economy Through Charity: Report)

The research, which was funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has implications for wealth advisors, charitable entities and donors alike, WPI said in a statement.

“The findings show that retirees continue to be generous during their retirement — even as other spending decreases — and that the way women and men address charitable giving later in life is a continuation of patterns established much earlier,” WPI’s director Debra Mesch said in the statement.

“With an unprecedented number of people retiring and women’s wealth on the rise, these findings underscore how important it is for the philanthropy community to understand how women and men give around retirement, and consider evolving their strategies accordingly.”

WPI noted that some 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 every day through 2030, and those older than 65 now represent 15% of the total population.

Earlier research by WPI found that women born during and before the baby boom gave more to charity than men.

The report used data from the Philanthropy Panel Study, a module in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, for eight calendar years collected biannually from 2001 to 2015. The PPS is the longest-running study of philanthropy in the U.S., and includes information about both respondents’ giving and volunteering behavior and their employment and retirement history.

Key Findings

The new research found that both men and women maintain their charitable giving after retirement, especially compared with other types of spending, which declines steadily, dropping by 16% on average in the five years before and after retirement.

The WPI found that before retirement, an estimated 77% of single women give to charity, compared with 66% of single men. After retirement, 76% of single women give to charity versus 67% for single men.

Although households maintain their giving after retirement compared with other spending, single men’s likelihood of giving and the amount is volatile, varying widely from year to year, compared with single women and married couples.

According to the research, single women and married couples are likelier to volunteer, and their likelihood of doing so is more constant over time, compared with single men, both before and after retirement. Only single women in the study increased their volunteering after retirement.

— Check out For Retirees, Giving Back Is a High Priority on ThinkAdvisor.


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