New OECD data and analysis revealing the wide gap in pension benefits between men and women


March 2015 - The data show that across European OECD countries and the United States, pension payments to individuals aged 65 and over were 28% lower, on average, for women than for men. Differences are above 40% in Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, while in Estonia the pension gap is small. 

Older women are more likely to have worked part-time and in less well-paid jobs. Since pension benefits are often earnings-related, these differences in career profiles between men and women can lead to large gender disparities in pension payments.  And having often spent more caring for children or relatives over their lifetimes, older women often do not meet contributory requirements and are therefore more likely to receive minimum pension payments or old-age safety nets. Older women who do not receive a pension are not covered by the gender pension gap indicator in the Figure below. 

Average pension gap on total pension income, 2011



But pension systems can only have a minor effect on differences in incomes between men and women in retirement; the real culprit is the legacy of decades of inequality in careers and earnings. Even if today’s younger women will earn more of their pension entitlements, achieving gender equality in pensions will remain a challenge because of the persistent earnings gap and the different distribution of care tasks between parents. Pension systems are not meant to address and solve those issues. A more comprehensive approach encompassing employment, social  and family policies is required to tackle the challenges faced by women and working parents, says the OECD. 

The OECD's Gender Portal also has new data showing that over the last six years many more women are spending time volunteering and ring and are today almost on par with men. The biggest increase in female participation in voluntary activities was registered in Italy, the Slovak Republic, Canada and Estonia. Men are much more likely than women to volunteer in sports associations, while women make up the majority of volunteers active in the social and health sector. Between 2008 and 2014, the total number of volunteers increased in many OECD countries, possibly related to a higher awareness of social and environmental concerns among the general public as well as an increased sense of solidarity to face economic difficulties. 

If you are writing a story on gender issues, the OECD Gender Portal has also been updated and is a useful source of data and analysis on Employment, Education and Entrepreneurship.

Update data include information on for example, tertiary graduation rates by sex, employment rates by sex and gender wage gaps, and the proportion of men and women who hold a loan with a financial institution. In addition, new highlights on selected issues include Women and Volunteering, gender differences in internet use,  gender differences in financial literacy performance, Aid to fragile states and economies targeting gender equality, and Gender gaps in secondary education and early marriage. 

The OECD will also launch a report on education and gender, “The ABC of Gender Equality in Education: Aptitude, Behaviour, Confidence”, on Thursday 5 March 2015 – more details at

For more information or comment on gender pension gaps, journalists can contact Anna d’Addio in the OECD’s Social Policy Division (tel. + 33 1 45 24 87 09) or the OECD Media Division (tel. + 33 1 45 24 97 00).