Men Live 79% as Many Years in Retirement as Women

The average man lives significantly fewer years in retirement than the average woman. This happens because men have a lower life expectancy than women in practically every country in the world, and because the age of retirement is higher for men than women in some countries (counter-intuitively, given the life expectancy gap).

(Length: 400 words.)

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), a group made up of 35 mostly highly-developed market economies (pictured below), keeps data on this. The OECD average in 2014 was 17.6 years of retirement for men and 22.3 years of retirement for women, giving the 79% figure in the title.


Here are the figures for six particular OECD countries of interest.

U.S. Canada U.K. Germany Australia France
Men’s Years 17.1 18.8 18.8 19.4 18.8 23.0
Women’s Years 20.7 23.7 22.7 22.8 23.7 27.2
Percentage 83% 79% 83% 85% 79% 85%

Note that this does not count people who leave the labour market before the age of 40, including many mothers with young children. The OECD thus cautions that their figures under-estimate how many years of retirement women have:

This indicator does not, therefore, capture the labour market behaviour of all women of working age, which leads to an under-estimation of the expected duration of retirement for women. The magnitude of this effect varies across countries.

(It’s unclear whether they mean that a stay-at-home parent would count as retired, which wouldn’t be sensible, or they mean we don’t know what happens when their children turn 18 and they can either retire or continue working with a paid job.)

The OECD data set also includes four major non-OECD countries, where the gender gap in years of retirement is much bigger. (Less developed countries appear more likely to have a gender gap in retirement age—see “Retirement age” on Wikipedia.)

China Brazil Russia South Africa
Men’s Years 13.2 13.4 13.0 9.6
Women’s Years 20.4 19.9 19.9 16.3
Percentage 65% 67% 65% 59%

(All figures come from, under headers: “Social Protection and Well-being” > “Gender” > “Employment” > “Expected number of years in retirement, by sex”.)

Interestingly, simply calculating years of retirement using retirement age and life expectancy by country from Wikipedia actually yields substantially larger gender gaps in these non-OECD countries. This method tells us that Russian men get not 65% but a mere 24% of Russian women’s retirement years. The reason for the discrepancy between the OECD and this method is unclear, but I’ll defer to the OECD’s presumably more sophisticated method of calculation and just note the difference here at the end.

Country Life Expectancy Retirement Age Years of Retirement
Men Women Men Women Men Women Percentage
Russia 65 76 60 55 5 21 24%
Brazil 71 79 65 60 6 19 32%

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