Three quarters of divorced or separated mothers will not be able to afford basic things such as food and heating when they retire.
This is because of the financial and career disadvantages mothers face, which have a lasting impact on later life, according to a new study by Scottish Widows.
Many mothers do not earn as much as men and cannot save as much for retirement because they are more likely to take career breaks to raise their children.
These financial disadvantages hit single mothers harder because they are unable to share the burden of daily expenses and childcare with a husband.
More than half (51%) are struggling to find jobs in the first place and 46% have reduced their hours to manage childcare.
The research also indicated that two-thirds of single women are generally not on track for a lifestyle minimum (which covers the basics with some discretionary income) during retirement.
This is significantly higher than women who are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting – and only 23% of them are unlikely to be able to afford the most basic lifestyle.
It is also higher than single men – 54% of whom are not on track – according to the report.
Jackie Leiper, managing director of Scottish Widows, said: “Despite how much we know about the issue of the gender pay gap, the long-term impact on women’s day-to-day lives when they retire is less talked about.
“It is understandable that single women affected by the mother penalty and the cost of single parenting may be more focused on how to support their family today, but this report shows the struggle they may face when they become grandmothers.
“We need to recognize the amount of childcare responsibility that falls on single mothers and the great contribution they make to society, which means they should be protected with policies to limit the impact it has on their careers life and on their pensions.
“The Government must prioritize affordable childcare to improve retirement prospects for all mothers and single mothers in particular.”
The report also found that half of fathers said they share childcare equally with their wives, while less than a third (31%) of mothers believe this to be true.
And 37% of mothers said they had left jobs to look after their children, as did 18% of fathers.
Alesha De-Freitas, head of policy, advocacy and research at the Fawcett Society, said: “We need urgent childcare reform that prioritizes accessibility and affordability for all, and this must work in tandem with an economy that delivers flexible, high-quality care. work.”
The report used YouGov research among more than 5,000 people across the UK in March and April this year.
It also used the Pensions and Life Savings Association’s retirement living standards to calculate the quality of lifestyle people could achieve when they stop working.
“The gender pay gap remains a key driver of the gender pay gap, and while employers have made significant progress in addressing it, it is clearly having a knock-on effect on women’s pension wealth.
“And while some women may pay the same proportion of their salary as men during their lifetime, there are other important factors involved. Women are still at a disadvantage if they have children or have other family care responsibilities.”
A Government spokesman said: “The success of auto-enrolment has changed the UK pensions landscape and brought millions of women into pension saving for the first time, and our expansion of free childcare in England means working families could save an average of £6,500 per child per year, which means. parents who are ready to return to work will benefit from the largest single investment in childcare ever.
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