In financial literacy, women lag behind men, Statistics Canada says

Canadian women have lower levels of financial literacy and less confidence in their ability to manage their finances than Canadian men, according to a study by Statistics Canada.

Only 15 per cent of women could answer basic questions about interest, inflation and risk

Canadian women are less knowledgeable about financial questions than men, and that may give them less confidence in planning for their own retirement. (Getty Images)

Canadian women have lower levels of financial literacy and less confidence in their ability to manage their finances than Canadian men, according to a study by Statistics Canada.

The study, carried out in 2014, found that 15 per cent of women and 22 per cent of men could correctly answer five questions on basic financial concepts such as interest, inflation and risk diversification.

Those low scores don't mean Canadians are complete dolts when it comes to finances.

Overall, women scored 58.6 per cent on the 14 questions on the financial literacy quiz, compared to 62.2 per cent for men.

The Statistics Canada data was drawn from analysis of the Canadian Financial Capability Survey sponsored by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, and the Department of Finance.

Women not only scored lower, they had less confidence in their ability to understand and make decisions about finances. About 31 per cent of women said they believed they were financially knowledgeable, compared to about 43 per cent of men.

Bigger gap among older Canadians

The financial literacy gap between women and men was larger among older Canadians and among those with higher education.

Among those aged 55 to 64, men were twice as likely as women to answer the five questions correctly but among Canadians under age 35, men and women had similar levels of financial knowledge.

Not that that was anything to brag about. The youngest Canadians had very low financial literacy scores – only 13 per cent could answer all five questions.

The lack of financial literacy among older Canadians, especially those over age 65, may reflect the increasing sophistication of investing and financial products, said report author Marie Drolet.

The size of the literacy gap also sometimes depended on the gender roles each partner took in a marriage or common-law relationship. In couples where a male partner made most of the money or most of the financial decisions, female partners had very low levels of financial literacy. But where couples managed the money together, their knowledge levels were about the same.

Women earn less, live longer

Lack of financial literacy among Canadian women is a concern because it may mean they are not as prepared for retirement as men, according to Drolet.

"Women also face different financial challenges than men. Canadian women can expect to live about 4.5 years longer than men and therefore must finance a longer period of retirement," she wrote in her report.

Because they tend to earn less over their lifetime, women's savings are generally less, yet the money must last longer.

Women are also more likely to need long-term care or face a disability, Drolet said.


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