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Women lagging men in retirement savings

– Women are just as likely to put away money for retirement as men – but they are way behind their male counterparts in total savings, a new study shows.

Men had an average of $139,467 in individual retirement accounts as of 2012, compared with an average of $81,700 for women, according to a report released last Wednesday by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, anorganization in Washington that focuses on health, savings and retirement issues.

Women moved money into their IRAs just as often as men did, the study found. This was true for IRAs overall; for Roth IRAs, which require contributions of after-tax dollars; and for traditional IRAs, which can include tax-deductible contributions.

Although women are just as likely to add to IRA accounts as men, they make smaller contributions on average. In 2012, female IRA account holders contributed an average of $3,995, compared with an average of $4,023 by men, according to the EBRI study. The difference is slight, but the pattern held true for most age groups, according to the study.

A couple of factors could explain those smaller contribution amounts, said Craig Copeland, an EBRI senior research associate. Some married women may make joint IRA contributions with their spouses, and those accounts may be under their husband’s name, he said.

Some women may be limited in how much they can put away for retirement because of other responsibilities, such as single mothers delaying retirement savings to cover child-care costs and some women deciding they would rather set aside money for a home.

But the most likely reason, he said, is not surprising: Women make less on average than men. Women earned about 77 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2012, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau.

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