Financial Stress

Why do women suffer more financial stress than men?

Recent studies have found women feeling considerably more financially stressed than men – but why?

AMP’s Financial Wellness report, released in October 2016 and based on online interviews done by Kantar TNS in June that year, found that 30 per cent of female respondents felt financially stressed.

This compared to only 19 per cent of men interviewed – making self-reported financial stress a huge 58 per cent higher for women.

In 2014, the Australian Psychological Society reported “personal financial issues” were a major source of stress for 53 per cent of women but only 44 per cent of men. The APS found three main causes of stress amongst Australians (in order) were personal finance, family issues and personal health.

AMP’s study found the main financial stressors in people’s lives are (in this order), bad debts, home loans, retirement, supporting the family and budgeting.

In the United States, Californian company Financial Finesse found 55 per cent of mothers earning less than US$60,000 reported “high” or “overwhelming” levels of financial stress. Male parents of a similar age group and income level were 40 per cent less likely to feel as bad.

While there are often only small discrepancies between men and women around financial values and stressors, women almost always report more negative feelings about money, even if only marginally.

The reasons why are, sadly, at best anecdotal and certainly elusive.

While it’s not proven as an explanation for women’s financial stress, historical and current pay inequity almost certainly plays a role. On average Australian women in fulltime work earn 17.3 per cent less than men ($277.70) according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. That gap has “hovered between 15% and 19% for the past two decades”.

At the same time, women traditionally have had more responsibility for the day-to-day running of the home, such as domestic duties and childcare. In recent times though, generally speaking, women’s involvement in financial decision-making – and sharing costs – in relationships has increased.

One could speculate shouldering more financial responsibility while still earning less and doing more than men at home might be a factor in women’s higher levels of financial stress. There is also evidence that risky behaviours with money, such as impulse spending BY MEN AND WOMEN are linked to feelings of stress, guilt, boredom and anger.

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