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Do men live in wealthier households than women?

Diederik Boertien, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics
Project selected in the Social Research Call 2019 LCF/PR/SR19/52540010

Women earn less than men, even when they occupy the same jobs and positions. However, we know little about whether there is a gender gap in wealth too. The wealth of a household refers to the total value of its members’ assets minus the total value of their debts. Gender differences in access to wealth are often assumed to exist primarily inside households: men have more control over the wealth of a household than women. But men could also live in wealthier households than women. We show that this is not the case in Spain for the population overall, but that among individuals aged 65 or more there is a large gender gap in household wealth: older men live in wealthier households than older women.
Key points
  • 1
       Men live in wealthier households than women in many countries, but not in Spain when we look at persons aged 35 or more.
  • 2
       There is a gender gap in wealth among persons aged 65 or more, with men having around 16,000 euros more “equivalized” wealth than women at the median.
  • 3
       The gender gap in wealth exists because women are more likely to live alone than men after age 65, which in turn is related to the age difference between men and women in couples and the lower life expectancy of men.
  • 4
       Around 31% of women above age 65 have less than 2,000 euros of financial wealth available, compared to 25% of men above age 65.
  • 5
       In Spain, wealth is an important economic resource for older people, who often have low income. Older women are more likely to live in households with very low wealth, putting them at a higher risk of severe deprivation.
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