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‘Century of Saving’ indicates women are taking control of household finances

03 August 2007 / by None
By 2020, a power shift will make women the primary decision makers when it comes to financial matters in the home, according to NS& I’s new Century of Savings report, which documents the evolution of UK savings habits from 1957 to today.

The report, conducted by think tank Future Foundation for NS& I to mark the 50th anniversary of premium bonds, predicts that in the not too distant future, the majority of household decisions will be made by women for the first time, reflecting a rise from 10% of decisions in 1992 to 12% in 2007; men now make 20% of financial decisions, compared to 22% in 1992. The remainder of decisions are made jointly.

It also forecasts that women will be the main earners in a quarter of all households, and the shift in power will lead to their having an increasingly tight hold on household finances and boosting then nation’s savings, as women are statistically better savers than their male counterparts, finding the best savings accounts and putting more away for a rainy day.

Women’s earning power has been gaining strength over the past 50 years, with their contributions helping to increase disposable income, and it has seen them taking more control over household income, consumption decisions, and other financial arrangements.

By 2057, the report predicts, significantly more women will have the final say in matters of finance, which marks a dramatic change from attitudes in the 1950s when women were often kept in the dark about their husband’s income and financial situation.

In 1957, saving was a weekly occurrence and was practiced by 37% of British households, a figure which has risen to 43% today. The report expects the number of households that actively make an effort to save to rise to 55% by 2057, bringing the total savings held in Britain from £43 billion today to £150 billion.

Men still earn more than women on average (£1,486 a month compared to £1,080), but earnings are levelling out, particularly amongst the younger generations – in 2000, women in their 20s earned the equivalent of 93% of men’s salaries, which has risen to 96% today. If this trend continues, women in this age group will have overtaken men by 2015.

Women are also increasingly willing to leave the home and 27% of women aged 16-24 say they would prefer to be the main breadwinner. William Nelson from the Future Foundation commented on the findings:

"In 2007, we are seeing the emergence of a generation of women who are better educated, more ambitious, and more financially confident than any before them. This generation is already more likely to handle day-to-day financial matters than their male partners, and demands to have at least an equal say in the big decisions."

Dax Harkins, NS& I's senior savings strategist, adds: “Women have a stronger hand to play than in the past, and will be the key decision makers in many households within a generation. NS& I's own Quarterly Savings Survey shows that women are consistently aspiring to save more than men6, so this should help drive higher savings levels in the future."

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