Survey says: Men and women more apart than united in retirement prep

OneAmerica online participant survey reveals difference based on employer match, investing

Indianapolis, July 12, 2016

Men think about retirement more often than women, talk about it more frequently with work colleagues and believe they are more educated about tools needed to prosper in their golden years, according to results from a OneAmerica® survey, the company’s second poll in three years that examines the role gender plays in retirement readiness.

In the most dramatic example of the difference between the sexes, men self-scored themselves as having a significantly higher level of knowledge than women across 10 personal finance and retirement topics, including student loans and taxation on Social Security benefits.

From Aug. 27, 2015-Jan. 31, 2016, OneAmerica conducted an online survey featuring responses from more than 10,500 participants — asking questions about their planning triggers and motivations, education and resource preferences and what roadblocks to retirement they may encounter. Gender-wise, responses were nearly split — 5,424 women and 5,331 men.

“We’ve known for quite some time that men and women don’t just think about retirement differently, they also talk about it differently,” said Marsha Whitehead, vice president of marketing for retirement services for the companies of OneAmerica. “By understanding these differences, plan sponsors can tailor their education programs to increase the influence they have on male and female participants.”

On broad topics such as addressing pre-retirement debt, men and women showed the same propensity to avoid taking loans or hardship withdrawals at about 71 percent.

When it comes to retirement plan features, men and women both placed the highest priority on a common workplace perk — an employer match on the employee’s contribution to the 401(k) or retirement plan being offered. It was ranked No. 1 by both sexes, followed by having investment options.

Men and women place similar emphasis on plan features that would encourage active retirement planning. But then come the differences. Women are more likely to place higher importance on the employer match (64 percent vs. 61 percent of men). And men are more likely to place importance on investment options (29 percent vs. 21 percent of women).

Men think about retirement more frequently than women. Sixty-nine percent report thinking about it at least monthly, compared to 55 percent of women.

Other highlights:

Planning Triggers

Two substantial differences in past triggers are evident. Men are more likely to discuss retirement with work colleagues (29 percent) compared to women (22 percent) and to cite a story in the news or media (16 percent vs 11 percent of women) about retirement.

Frequency and Importance of Monitoring Status

Men are significantly more likely to monitor their retirement plan more frequently. More than half do so monthly (53 percent) compared to 36 percent of women. While both men and women indicate that knowing their status against goals is important, men are more likely to say 'very important' (54 percent) versus women (48 percent).

OneAmerica also used differences in gender in 2013 when we studied confidence of men and women when it related to retirement readiness.

Additional results of the OneAmerica survey will be released throughout this summer. Topics will touch on frequency of retirement planning thought and past triggers; retirement delay reasons; knowledge of various personal financial topics; and differences among age groups. OneAmerica has also created a new infographic: 'Insights from our research: Participant Behaviors.'

OneAmerica is the marketing name for the companies of OneAmerica.

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About OneAmerica®

A national leader in the insurance and financial services marketplace for nearly 140 years, the companies of OneAmerica help customers build and protect their financial futures.

OneAmerica offers a variety of products and services to serve the financial needs of their policyholders and customers. These products include retirement plan products and recordkeeping services, individual life insurance, annuities, asset based long-term care solutions and employee benefit plan products.

Products are issued and underwritten by the companies of OneAmerica and distributed through a nationwide network of employees, agents, brokers and other sources that are committed to providing value to our customers. 

To learn more about our products, services and the companies of OneAmerica, visit

Tom Spalding, Public Relations Manager, 317-285-1461