New Financial Health Study Examines Deep Gender Gap in Financial Health with Men Nearly 50% More Likely to be Financially Healthy

Pandemic widened persistent financial health gap between men and women; Black and Latina women and low-income women fare the worst in new findings.

Chicago, IL, July 14, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Financial Health Network, the nation’s authority on financial health, in partnership with the Principal® Foundation, today released The Gender Gap in Financial Health report, exploring why women in America continue to fare worse financially than men. The study explores the systemic challenges to women’s financial health and reveals an interconnected set of issues that constrain financial security. 

Key findings include: 

  • Women report worse outcomes than men on every measure of financial health: spending, savings, borrowing, and planning.
  • Women are more likely to report that their financial situations worsened during the pandemic than men.
  • Significant disparities exist along racial and ethnic backgrounds, with only 11% of Black women and 7% of Latina women being considered Financially Healthy, compared to 25% of White women.
  • Women who are married or living with a partner (24%) are more likely to be Financially Healthy than women who are not married (13%).

While income alone is not a sole determinant of financial health, it is important to note that the report found women overall report lower income than men due to unequal pay, occupational segregation, discrimination, and disproportionate caregiving responsibilities. 

“From shouldering childcare responsibilities to a persistent wage gap, women have long faced barriers to financial health, and the pandemic only worsened this situation,” said Financial Health Network Senior Director Meghan Greene. “Families, communities, and the economy benefit when women make financial health gains, and tangible action can be taken now by employers and policymakers to close the gap through building up our care infrastructure with paid leave and expanded childcare options, bridging the wage gap, counteracting gender discrimination, and expanding opportunities to build wealth. ”

The report identified four systemic barriers to the financial health of women that, if addressed, could make a significant difference in their financial lives: 

Income disparities and challenges meeting basic needs

  • Women are more likely to have low household incomes (defined here as $30,000 or less) than men; and only 4% of women with low household incomes are considered financially healthy, compared to 50% of women with household incomes over $100,000.
  • Nearly half (45%) of women with children under four say they sometimes or often worry about how to afford diapers. 
  • A quarter (25%) of women report that they worry about affording menstrual products such as pads and tampons for themselves or another person in the household.

Cost of childcare and lack of caregiving infrastructure

  • 70% of women with children under 18 report making a career change, such as reducing their hours, taking a leave of absence, or switching to a less demanding job because of their parenting responsibilities, compared with 55% of men.
  • More than half of women with children under 12 who are not working or working part-time say they would like to work more but cannot due to the cost of childcare.

Burdensome debt

  • More women than men report carrying unmanageable debt levels (39% compared with 31%). 
  • 44% of women aged 18-29 say that debt has led them to delay homeownership, marriage, children, or other life adjustments, compared with 34% of men in the same age bracket.
  • Almost 2 in 5 Black and Latina women (39% and 36%) say they have altered their life trajectories due to debt, compared to a quarter of White women (26%).

Insufficient long-term savings

  • 35% of non-retired women aged 50-64 report having no personal retirement savings. 
  • Women trail men in retirement savings and are less likely to report having longer-term investment vehicles in their own name, including retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, pensions, and other financial assets.

“While women show tremendous resilience and hope for the future, these findings illuminate the depth of the gender gap between men and women and the detriment to women's long-term financial health,” said Jo Christine Miles, director of the Principal Foundation. “We have a clear opportunity to do better by women, especially women of color, as our nation continues to build out from the pandemic.”

Findings also revealed that being subjected to harassment on the job is associated with materially lower financial health:

  • 40% of women reported being subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace. 
  • Gender discrimination in the workplace was reported by 36% of female respondents.
  • Women who reported being subjected to harassment were seven percentage points less likely to be considered Financially Healthy than women who did not report harassment.

This report is the Financial Health Network’s first comprehensive look into financial health gender disparities. A  nationally representative study of more than 3,000 people was conducted in late 2021 and supplemented with focus groups among women in early 2022. Survey questions were created in consultation with internal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee members and staff, advisory committee members, and SSRS project team members in an effort to create inclusive questions on gender, race and ethnicity, and sexual orientation. 

For more information regarding the Gender Gap in Financial Health report, and to see specific recommendations for policymakers and employers, please visit our website.

About the Financial Health Network

The Financial Health Network is the leading authority on financial health. We are a trusted resource for business leaders, policymakers and innovators united in a mission to improve the financial health of their customers, employees and communities. Through research, advisory services, measurement tools, and opportunities for cross-sector collaboration, we advance awareness, understanding and proven best practices in support of improved financial health for all. For more on the Financial Health Network, go to and follow us on Twitter at @FinHealthNet.



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