A 20% difference in pension savings between men and women in Denmark is set to persist for the next 50 years, according to one of the country’s biggest pension providers.

PFA, Denmark’s largest commercial pension provider, conducted a study looking at the gender pension gap and reported that the disparity in retirement income savings between the sexes in Denmark was due to the further education decisions made by the majority of each gender. This in turn affected salaries and pension savings.

Carsten Holdum, consumer economist at PFA, said: “Young people typically choose education based on interest, curiosity and the type of employment after their studies.

“But the choice of education is also of great economic importance. And when women still today, to a large extent, choose education with a lower average salary than men, they are on their way to lower pay and savings than men, even before they have had their first working day.”

In the study based on data from the Coordinated Enrolment (KOT), the secretariat which coordinates admission to the majority of higher education in Denmark, PFA said it found women tended to choose to stay in education longer than men.

However, the study found that women more often selected subjects that led to lower paid jobs, while men chose subjects leading to higher pay.

The fund highlighted a specific example: the difference between the training required to become a midwife, traditionally seen as a female career choice, and that of an installer, a mainly male career.

Though midwifery training was twice as long, the monthly salary for an installer was DKK5,000-DKK7,000 (€670-€940) higher, PFA said.

“The fact that education and career choices have such a significant impact on life income is worth noting,” said Holdum.

This was particularly important as a woman’s pension savings also had to stretch for more years than a man’s on average, since women left the labour market earlier and lived longer than men.

“In addition, pensions are personal and not shared by divorce,” Holdum said. “Here, all else being equal, women will be disadvantaged by having significantly lower savings than men.”