There have been plenty of studies that highlight the fact thatwomen are running behind when it comes toretirement savings—they have less put away than mendespite the fact that, statistically, they’ll need more.

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A new study from Vanguard has looked at the data and concludedthat the culprit for those low balances is women’s pay, not theirsavings habits or participationrates.

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According to the study, women are 14 percent more likely thanmen to participate in their employer’s retirement plan, and oncethey’re enrolled save at higher rates than men at all incomelevels.

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But those income levels are key to women having asuccessful outcome in saving forretirement—and it’s not happening.

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Although women not only participate at higher rates than men andeven take similar risks with the investments in their plans, theysimply don’t have as much pay to draw on for savings.

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The automatic enrollment feature has muddied the waters on thisfinding.

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While at first blush, men appear to benefit more from automaticenrollment than women, the Vanguard study found that lower-wageindividuals see the largest improvements from automaticenrollment—and a higher proportion of women than men have lowerwages.

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According to the study, women earning less than $100,000 haveparticipation rates that are about 20 percent higher than men.

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Even at incomes of $100,000 or more, women are more likely to beparticipants.

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But what’s telling is the fact that 45 percent of the femalepopulation has wages of less than $50,000, compared with 28 percentof the male population—and approximately 60 percent more women fallinto the lower-income groups than men.

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Once they’re in a plan, the study found, women across all incomelevels save at rates that are anywhere from 7 percent to 16 percenthigher than those of men.

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And while there’s considerable variation in deferral ratesbecause of factors including age, pay level, gender, tenure andplan design, deferral rates rise with wages, age, and tenure.

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Auto enrollment generally brings in participants at lowerdeferral rates because the default is generally set at just 3percent. But, controlling for all the variables that can determinedeferral rates, the study found that women have predicted deferralrates that are 3 percent higher than men.

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