Europe, it seems, is set to rule on gender and pensions. Some time last year (2010), an adviser to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the European Union’s highest court, argued that insurance companies may not charge men and women different rates for products. And soon, on 1 March 2011 the European Court is to make a ruling on pensions that might ban the use of gender in determining benefits.
This is an important issue for men – whose pensions may go down as a result – and for women too because the ruling could affect other types of insurance which would mean that young women drivers might no longer benefit from more favourable motor insurance rates than their male counterparts.
Up to now, men have received higher annuities than women because they don’t live as long. That’s the theory. There are some who think that now, because women work like men, and drink like men, and so on, that their life expectancy may not be what it once was. Other argue that our genetics or hormones or whatever – mother nature, dontchaknow, is stacking the odds in favur of the girls. Whichever side you’re on, will probably determine your view of the pension entitlement.
When you think about it, the wonder is that this debate hasn’t happened sooner. Speaking as a woman, I welcome anything that enhances women’s pension entitlements but I’m cynical enough to think that smart women will try to make some provision, other than pension, for their senior years since I’ve yet to meet anyone who has ever told me they were delighted with their pension or that it had exceeded their aspirations or expectations,
For a lot of us fiftysomethings, the performance of funds has been somewhat scary in recent years and I’m probably not the only woman on the brink of menopause to find herself contemplating a longer working life as a result of poor fund performance.
So for now, and for once, I’ll be watching Europe with interest.