The Significance of Gender for Savings and Retirement

This study, funded by a NEFE grant to the University of Notre Dame, extends previous NEFE-funded research into the complex causes and consequences of Latinos’ inability to save for retirement. First, the relationship of Latinos’ employment, citizenship, household income and resources to their low rates of pension eligibility was investigated in La Tercera Edad: Latinos’ Pensions, Retirement and Impact on Families (2008). Next, social and cultural institutions were examined to investigate how low-wealth Latinos’ “investment” in collectivist, and often long-distance, networks substitutes for savings in the form retirement system in Confianza, Savings and Retirement: A study of Mexican Immigrants (2012). Now, gender is added to the equation to consider whether and how gender, in relation to factors identified in previous phases of research, affects Latinos’ planning and saving for retirement.

Results of the combined quantitative and qualitative research demonstrate that Mexican-heritage men and women are far more alike than different in attitudes toward earning, exchanging, and saving money within networks built on mutual trust; gender equality is the norm in decision making; and income, more than gender has an effect on Latinas’ likelihood to save for retirement.

The methodology combines statistical analysis of national census data from the Survey of Income and Pension Participation (SIPP) and the Health and Retirement Survey and a qualitative case study of (foreign-born) Mexican immigrants’ and (native-born) Mexican-Americans’ retirement savings in metropolitan Chicago.

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