Senior woman websurfing on digital tablet
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A new report from Statistics Canada suggests single women who are 50+ have a higher median net worth than single men in the same age group.

Using data from the Surveys of Financial Security from 1999, 2005, 2012 and 2016, StatsCan found that median wealth grew faster among unattached women aged 50 and older than it did for single men aged 50+.

By 2016, unattached women had “substantially higher” median wealth than men, StatsCan reported. The median net worth of a single woman aged 50+ was $266,100, while the median net worth for single men in the same age group was $195,000.

An overall younger segment of unattached women were almost twice as wealthy as men: single women in the 50–64 age group had median wealth of $222,100, while the comparable segment of men had median wealth of $129,800.

StatsCan noted that over the past 40 years, women have moved toward higher-paying jobs and increased their presence in the public sector — which typically offers registered pension plans (RPPs) — while the unionization rates of men have “dropped sharply.”

“For these reasons, the wealth holdings and pension plan assets — an important wealth component — of unattached women may have increased at a faster pace than those of unattached men,” StatsCan suggested.

Indeed, StatsCan found that by 2016, 47% of single women aged 50–64 had RPPs, compared with 38% of single men in the same age group.

Women’s pension assets also increased at a significantly faster rate. From 1999 to 2016, RPP assets for single women aged 50+ increased by 63%, while RPP assets for single men in the same age group increased by 33%.

Both the women and men surveyed had similar debt-to-income levels in 2016.

Among the homeowners surveyed, single women had a higher median net equity in their principal residences than men did in 2016. However, women had a lower share of wealth in other residences and business equity.

When compared to those aged 65 and older, single men and women aged 50–64 had higher debt-to-income ratios, were less likely to pay their credit card bills in full each month, were more likely to live with low income and were more likely to have no financial wealth, StatsCan found.

“If women keep increasing their presence in high-paying occupations, their individual lifetime income — and their ability to accumulate wealth — is expected to increase over time,” StatsCan concluded.