Pension gaps among women: what you as a woman can do to improve your pension situation


Statistics show that in Switzerland women receive lower retirement pensions than their male counterparts. We show you what you as a woman can do to protect yourself against pension gaps when you retire – in every phase of life.

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The gender pension gap in Switzerland is 34.6%. According to the Federal Statistical Office, women receive on average over one third less from their retirement pensions than men.
Source: Federal Statistic Office, 2023


What is the reason for pension gaps among women?

Women usually have less money at their disposal in old age than men. This is due to what’s known as the pension gap. Women in Switzerland frequently work part-time and take longer breaks during their careers. The reason for this is that women do more unpaid work at home than men such as housework or childcare. That’s not to mention the wage gaps between men and women.


The impact is especially large with regard to occupational pension provision (pillar 2). The most recent figures from the Federal Statistical Office on the gender pension gap show that women’s pensions in Switzerland from  pillar 2 are around 47% lower than those of their male counterparts. And around one half of all women do not receive any pension from a pension fund at all. Viewed across the pension landscape as a whole, women receive 34.6% less from their retirement pensions in old age than men.





What you can do to protect yourself against pension gaps


As a woman, you have various options for protecting yourself against pension gaps. There are solutions suitable for all stages in life. You can start investing early on to provide for your retirement. But even later on in life, it’s never too late. We’ve compiled some tips on the steps women can take for their retirement, no matter what age.

Why you as a woman should take charge of your own retirement


  • Childcare, part-time work: More often than not, women are the ones who spend unpaid time taking care of the home and looking after the family. This can create gaps in retirement savings. That’s why you as a woman should take charge of your own retirement.
  • Higher life expectancy: women live four years longer than men, statistically speaking. The money you’ve saved has to last longer on average than it does for men.
  • Inflation: For as long as the nominal interest rate is below the annual rate of inflation in Switzerland, your savings will lose value in real terms.

1) Pension solutions for women aged 30 or younger


You’re only in your twenties. But should you already start taking an interest in your retirement? The answer is ‘yes’ – even if you’ve only just begun working. Women who work part-time are especially prone to pension gaps. If you earn less than CHF 22,050 a year, generally you don’t pay into a pension fund. That makes it all the more important to start investing in your retirement early – for example with a pillar 3a account.


1. Take stock of your situation: How am I already making provisions for the future (e.g. AHV, pension fund and pillar 3a)? What’s my income and expenditure? Can I set aside part of this to save for my retirement?

2. Make regular payments: Even small contributions can quickly add up when made on a regular basis. Read here why pillar 3a is already something you should be thinking about.

3. Save by investing in the markets: You choose for yourself how long your investment horizon is and how much or how little risk you want to enter into. Read here everything you need to know about investing in the markets with pillar 3a.


2) Investing in retirement for women aged 30 to 50

By this time you’ve probably already changed jobs a couple of times. Maybe you’ve already had children and taken a break in your career. As individual as women are, there’s an insurance solution to suit every need.


1. Crunch the numbers: Are there any gaps in your pillar 1? How much have you already managed to save in your pension fund? Read here why pillar 3a is so important for women.

2. Get professional advice – after all, it’s your financial independence that’s at stake. Also in the case of separation or divorce.

3. Make a conscious plan for your career and your workload: share the time spent working, taking care of the home and looking after the family fairly and deliberately between partners.

4. Plan regular payments into pillar 3a and save by investing in the markets: Find out what your investment horizon is. Choose the risk tolerance that suits you and make regular payments into pillar 3a. If securities are too much of a risk for you, you can simply hold your pension assets in cash with frankly.



3) Planning for retirement when you work for yourself

When you work for yourself, you need to take an even more active role in your retirement. You have to report to the Compensation Office of your own accord for your pillar 1. As an independent businesswoman, you’re not automatically affiliated to a pension fund. Maybe you can get insurance through your professional organisation. If you’ve hired people on your payroll, you can join a collective foundation together with them.


1. Draw up a plan: Working for yourself entails risk, but also means greater financial independence. You can also withdraw funds you’ve previously saved up in your pillar 3a to help found your company – provided you’re just establishing a sole proprietorship or partnership, at least to start with.

2. Whether you decide to join an occupational pension scheme or not: especially without pillar 2, pillar 3a is particularly important for self-employed women when it comes to planning for retirement.

3. Plan regular payments into pillar 3a and save by investing in the markets: learn more here about how as an independent businesswoman you can save on taxes with pillar 3a.

4. Get professional advice before you embark on the journey to self-employment to give yourself the best possible start.



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