The Widowhood Penalty: Neglecting Spousal Financial Planning

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When a spouse dies, many women face severe financial hardship despite being part of a married couple for decades. This "widowhood penalty" results from men failing to ensure their wives are financially secure if tragedy strikes.

Why does this phenomenon persist?

Traditional gender norms

Part of the answer lies in longstanding societal norms around gender roles. Traditionally, financial matters were viewed as the man's domain, with many husbands taking a paternalistic approach to money management. A 2018 study from UBS made these surprising findings:

  • 56% of married women leave investment and financial planning decisions to their husbands.
  • 85% of married women who stay out of long-term financial decisions believe their spouses know more about financial matters.
  • Eight out of 10 women are content with the current distribution of financial responsibilities in their marriages.
  • 80% of women will end up alone.
  • 98% of divorcees and widows would advise other women to take an active role in finances now.