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Happy Father’s Day!

I am currently have an “alpha male” living in my garden – Phil the Pheasant. He is very handsome with his iridescent copper-coloured plumage, ear tufts and glossy purple neck contrasting with his red face and wattle. Having escaped the gun by finding refuge in my garden, he has been feeding on all the worms in the garden so is plump and no longer attempts to fly but lets out a harsh “korr kok”, if any other animal, including me, goes near him.

Pheasants are one of many types of birds where the male birds are more colourful than the female birds. Until the 18th century, you could say that men were more colourful than women. It was the beginning of what has been called the Great Male Renunciation, which saw men abandon the wearing of make- up, jewellery, bright colours and ostentatious fabrics in favour of a dark, more sober clothing.

The first year I was at TPAS, I recall an online enquiry that we received from a lady who had worked for the NHS with a short break whilst her children were growing up. She had not joined the NHS pension scheme as, in her words, “my husband provides for our living expenses and pays into his own private pension; my salary is just for holiday and treats”. This is evidence that we are all creatures of habit who conform with social norms.

On this Father’s Day, let’s think about some society changes that should make us question the social norms.

  • The gap between male and female life expectancy is narrowing; girls expected to live 5.4 years longer than boys born in the early nineties; the gap had narrowed to 3.7 years. How will this affect choices of retirement income and annuity rates?
  • In the mid-1980s, close to half of people supported a gendered separation of roles, with the man in the ‘breadwinner’ role and the woman in the caring role. Since then, there has been a steady decline in the numbers holding this view. In 2012, only 13 per cent of people thinks that this should be the case. Female participation in public and private sector pensions is broadly the same as male eligible employees.
  • There has been a rise in women’s participation in the labour market over the past few decades and, in today’s couple families, the tendency is for both partners to work albeit women tend to work part time when they have young children. Automatic enrolment should see more women join pension schemes (although the earnings limit or multiple jobs may skew this) but will they stay in?
  • There are now ten times as many stay-at-home dads as a decade ago. It is suggested there are 1.4million men whose main role is primary carer for their children. How will this affect their credits towards State pension and other pension entitlements?
  • Overall, divorce rates have been declining at all ages except in the over age 50 category. How is this going to affect people retirement planning?

The clear message is that the world is changing for men and so should your planning for retirement. And maybe dust off some of the more flamboyant clothes in your wardrobe!

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