When it comes to retirement planning, women are better off married than never married or divorced. 

According to a recent study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, married women are more confident they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement than divorced or never-married women.

In the group’s 30th Retirement Survey, conducted in January (and repeated in part in March), 76% of married female workers were very or somewhat confident they would have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years compared with just 43% of divorced female workers and 51% of never-married female workers. 

Once retired, married women and never-married women are more likely to find that their lifestyle is somewhat or much better than they had expected and their spending is closer to expectations compared with divorced and widowed women. 

Far fewer married women retired earlier than planned — 37% — compared with more than 50% of divorced, widowed and never-married women, and more married women (73%) had access to a workplace retirement plan than divorced or never-married women  (52% and 53%, respectively).

Married women were also less likely to have a level of debt that hurt their ability to live comfortably in retirement, compared to unmarried women, whether never married, divorced or widowed.

A supplemental survey conducted by EBRI in late March to test women’s confidence about retirement after the COVID-19 pandemic struck found little change among married retirees but increased confidence among never-married and widowed retirees.

“The survey results clearly show that women in differing situations could benefit from receiving more specialized information and assistance with retirement preparation and everyday financial issues,” the report notes. “The approaches currently being used does not appear to be as effective for unmarried women workers, likely due to the resulting financial and life-circumstance upheaval of a divorce or death of a spouse.”

EBRI suggests that employers consider developing new targeted messages, methods or materials to reach unmarried women in order to increase their chances for a financially successful retirement.

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