Men and women have different views of life after 65, Sun Life Financial study finds

Does the “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” idea fit when it comes to retirement?

TORONTO, Jan. 21 2010 – The gender gap seems to have extended into Canadians’ views of retirement with twice as many men (32 per cent) than women surveyed saying they want to work past age 65, according to the second edition of the Sun Life Canadian Unretirement(TM) Index.

“We also found that men and women had diverse opinions around what factors should be considered in a retirement plan, with women more likely to cite long-term care, low interest rates and death of a spouse,” said Kevin Dougherty, President, Sun Life Financial Canada. “Interestingly, we found that Canadians on the whole were significantly more confident about their retirement if they had worked with a financial advisor for a year or more than those who did not have an advisor.”

Other survey findings show that men and women think differently about financial planning and confidence in retirement:

  • Seven in 10 women (71 per cent) who said they will be working past age 65 said they will be doing so to earn enough money to pay for basic living expenses compared to 65 per cent of men. More women (61 per cent) also believed their company pension will not be enough to live on compared to men (56 per cent).
  • Forty-nine per cent of Canadian women surveyed were very confident they would have enough money for basic retirement living expenses compared to 57 per cent of men.
  • Twenty-nine per cent of women were very confident they will have enough money to enjoy the lifestyle they want compared to 36 per cent of men.
  • Women tended to be less confident about the overall economy and their personal finances compared to men.

“Women have substantial reasons for worrying that they won’t have enough money to enjoy the lifestyle they want in retirement,” said Alison Konrad, Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario. “The average Canadian woman earns about 66 per cent of what the average Canadian male earns. So even though women tend to put a larger percentage of their income into their retirement nest eggs, men save almost $1,900 more each year.”

Measuring Canadians’ overall retirement confidence

The Sun Life Canadian Unretirement(TM) Index measures the confidence that Canadian workers have towards issues that influence retirement. The lower the index number, the more negative or pessimistic the outlook is on issues that influence retirement.

This second of multiple studies yielded an overall index score of 51 on a scale of 0 to 100, compared to a score of 50 in December 2008. This compares to the American Unretirement(SM) Index score of 44.

Confidence levels were significantly higher for Canadians who worked with a financial advisor. The overall index score was 51 for all working Canadians surveyed. Those who did not have an advisor scored 48, while those Canadians surveyed who have worked with an advisor for a year or more were much more confident, scoring 54.

The Index is a blend of confidence scores in five sub-indices: Macroeconomics (score = 40), Government Benefits (score = 47), Personal Finance (score = 49), Employer Benefits (score = 47), and Health (score = 70).

Which of these describes what you think you will be doing at age 66, shortly after the normal retirement age?

                      Women    Men  Women    Men  Women    Men  Women    Men
                      30 to  30 to  40 to  40 to  50 to  50 to  60 to  60 to
                         39     39     49     49     59     59     65     65
    Working full time    7%    13%    13%    17%    13%    21%    15%    32%
    Working part time   24%    29%    19%    31%    26%    35%    31%    36%
    Fully retired/
     not working for
     money              68%    57%    68%    51%    59%    43%    53%    31%
    No longer living     1%     1%     1%     1%     2%     1%     1%     1%

What should a retirement plan address?

                                                  Women    Men
    Won't have money to leave to heirs              42%    37%
    Changes in marital status                       48%    37%
    Family members have unforeseen financial
     needs                                          54%    50%
    Financial market risk                           60%    58%
    Death of a spouse                               67%    56%
    My rate of return won't be high enough          66%    59%
    Employment risk - job market or personal
     health problems                                65%    59%
    Employer health benefits stop when I stop
     working                                        62%    63%
    Money will be locked in when I need it          66%    64%
    Low interest rates                              71%    60%
    Money won't last my full lifetime               67%    64%
    Long-term care needed                           72%    60%
    Poor health results in extra costs or
     care needed                                    71%    68%
    Inflation                                       79%    71%


The study was conducted by Fleishman Hillard from August 17, 2009, to September 9, 2009. Telephone interviews were conducted by Interviewing Service of America using a random-digit dial (RDD) sampling method. Quotas and weights were applied to gather a sample of 1,202 people working either full- or part-time, which was representative of the Canadian working population between the ages of 30 and 65. The sample was also representative in terms of gender and region census break. Analysis and construction of indexes involved the application of factor analysis. Final indexes are based on summated averages across the attributes which make up an index.

Age groups were divided by workers in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60+ and by three ranges of total assets, not including the net worth of the person’s place of residence (less than $100K, between $100K and $500K, and greater than $500K). This sample has a margin of error of plus or minus three per cent at the 95 per cent confidence interval.

For more information about the Sun Life Canadian Unretirement(TM) Index, visit

About Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Chartered in 1865, Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China and Bermuda. As of September 30, 2009, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of US $385.3 billion.

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under ticker symbol SLF. Visit Sun Life Financial’s website at

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