Single women, particularly in old age, are at highest risk of poverty

In 2019, the country with the highest score in the domain of money was Luxembourg, with 92.4 points, and the country with the lowest score was Bulgaria, with 64.5 points (see Figure 8). Progress has been made in nearly all countries since 2018, particularly Romania (+ 6.1 points), Lithuania (+ 3.8 points), Latvia (+ 3.5 points) and Estonia (+ 3.2 points).

The countries that have made the greatest leap forward since 2010 are Latvia (+ 9.8 points), Romania (+ 9.3 points), Lithuania (+ 9.1 points) and Estonia (+ 7.7 points). By contrast, since 2018, Sweden’s score has dropped by 1.4 points and France’s has dropped by 0.7 points. Slovakia is alone in having recording no change since 2018. Greece is the only country to have regressed since 2010, with its score dropping by 1.6 points (Figure 8).

Family composition, age, educational attainment, migration status and (dis)ability influence income disparities between women and men. While income gaps are less visible for couples with or without children, single people and lone parents suffer striking gender inequalities. Lone mothers earn 2.125 PPS[1] less than lone fathers, but highest income gap is between single women and single men, with women earning 2.706 PPS less than men (Figure 9).

Over a lifetime, income inequalities widen, with the result that the gender gap is greatest among older people. Women aged 65 years or older receive 1.934 PPS less than men. Known as the gender pension gap, this phenomenon has multiple causes. These include fewer years in employment because of the motherhood penalty, job segregation, differences in pension systems, and work intensity and pay over a lifetime (EIGE, 2015).

Across the EU, the gender pension gap remains wide, despite having decreased from 35 % in 2010 to 30 % in 2018[2]. Pensions are the most important source of income for older people; therefore, gender gaps in this area result in a higher risk of poverty among pension-age women. Single women face the greatest financial hardship in old age as they cannot rely on survivor pensions or the income of a partner (European Parliament, 2016b).