Working women's retirement savings is significantly lower than men's,regardless of individual and household similarities, according to anew LIMRA study.

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"Women's average defined contribution plan balances are only 60 percent of men'saverage balances," said Cecilia Shiner, senior analyst of LIMRA'sretirement research. "This is especially concerning because womenlive longer than men and thus need more retirement savings. Inaddition to a longer average lifespan, women are more likely tohave work disruptions for care giving that hinder their capacity tosave. Therefore, they need to capitalize on savings opportunitieswhile they are working."

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The Gender Matters: Retirement Savings of Working Men and Womenreport studied men's and women's retirement savings habits anddiscovered working women 50 years and older have lower definedcontribution plan balances by nearly $63,000 than men of the sameage and employment status. Though the typical defined contributionplan deferral rate is higher for women aged 50 or older, they are53 percent more likely to earn less than men of the same age.

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LIMRA researchers also found men of all age groups are morelikely than women to name retirement as an essential reason forsaving, suggesting women are likely than men to prioritize andoversee their retirement savings.

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Based on the research, women tend to lack an understanding about financial products and services.When asked to rate their own knowledge about financial products andservices, 29 percent of men and only 14 percent of women considerthemselves knowledgeable. Fifty-four percent of women felt at leastsomewhat knowledgeable about financial products and services, butnearly three-quarters of men felt the same way.

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However, the study shows employees with comparable financialknowledge, despite their gender, are similar regarding theirbehavior toward retirement planning. Both financially savvy men andwomen are more likely to be involved in managing their retirementsavings than those who are not, which may suggest women would bemore active in retirement planning if they improved their financialknowledge.

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"As an industry, we have to do more to educate women on theimportance of retirement saving and planning," Shiner says."Companies can help employers provide the tools and information toencourage them to participate in their DC plans and become moreinvolved in the financial decisions surrounding theirretirement."

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The study, which was conducted in July and August of 2010,surveyed almost 2,500 employees, who were not self-employed and didnot work for the federal government or military but were alsoeligible for a defined contribution plan. All survey results arefigured to represent a target sample population, according to U.S.Census numbers.

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women retiring

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