European Commission: European women get 40% lower pensions than men

The largest gender gaps are found on Cyprus and in the Netherlands, where women’s pensions are about half of men’s. The gap is the narrowest in Estonia. Finland is clearly more equal than the average EU countries: women’s pensions are 24 per cent lower than men’s in Finland. The data is from the European Commissions’ Pensions Adequacy Rapport (PAR) 2018.

European women get a pension that is, on average, 37 per cent lower than the pension men get. There is great variation between the countries, as is shown in the fresh PAR 2018 report by Social Protection Committee of the EU Commission.

The gender gaps are particularly high on Cyprus and in the Netherlands, where women’s pensions are only half of those of men.  The most equal countries in terms of pensions are Estonia and Denmark, where the gap is only a few per cent.

Finland is located in the middle in a European comparison: women’s pensions are 24 per cent lower than men’s.

According to the Commission, the great gender gap in pensions in the Netherlands is caused by the gender gap in the labour market. Women’s wages are clearly lower than men’s, and women commonly work part-time. Women working is not as self-evident as it is in Finland.

The small gender gap in Estonia and Denmark is explained by the low significance of earnings-related pensions in these countries. In both countries, the statutory pension is based mainly on a flat-rate pension.

Most countries support starting a family

The Commission’s report also reviews theoretical net replacement rates. They reveal how, for example, looking after one’s children affects one’s pensions. The net replacement rate means the ratio of the starting net pension to the net wage before retirement.

The replacement rate calculations assumes an uninterrupted working life of 40 years, of which three years are subtracted due to child care. In most countries, starting a family is supported in some way. In Finland, child care weakened the net replacement rate by one percentage point compared to a person whose working life was not interrupted by child care.

A new feature of the calculation in the PAR is a combination of the three-year child care period with a 10-year-long period of part-time work (66%). In most countries, the net difference in pensions was slightly less than 5 per cent, as for Finland and Sweden.

“In Finland, having children is supported in many ways. From the pension system’s point of view, breaks in working life of 1-2 years due to child care do not lower the future pension in any significant way,” explains Juha Knuuti, Senior Adviser at the Finnish Centre for Pensions.

The Pension Adequacy Report (PAR) is compiled in cooperation with the EU Commision and the Member States and published every three years. It extensively compares European pension systems with a particular focus on pension adequacy.

The Finnish Centre for Pensions arranges an international conference on 18 May 2018: Gender Inequalities in Employment and Pensions. The life streaming from the event starts shortly before 12 noon local time/11 a.m. CEST.

European Commission – Press Release
The Pension Adequacy Report 2018
International conference: Gender Inequalities in Employment and Pensions 

More information
Juha Knuuti, Senior Adviser, phone +358 29 411 2659, juha.knuuti(at)