Despite emphasizing that equal financial participation in a relationship is necessary for true gender parity, half of women defer to spouses on long-term financial decisions, according to a report by UBS.

The report, "Own Your Own Worth 2020," found that only 16% of women take the lead in long-term financial decisions, while 49% leave it up to their spouse and 35% participate equally.  Among women of color, 48% defer long-term financial decisions to their spouse or partner and 31% share equally, while 21% take the lead. Among same-sex couples, 41% defer to a spouse.

The research was conducted in January and February and comprised 1,825 investors—906 women and 919 men. It revealed that both genders strongly agree that financial decisions should include both in a relationship (82% of women versus 74% of men). It should be noted the research also included data from a March 2019 UBS survey that included 883 single investors (414 women and 469 men).

The study found that younger women are far less likely than baby boomers to believe equal participation in long-term financial decisions is necessary. Millennials (76%) were the least likely to believe it is necessary for equality, 78 % of Gen Xers agreed, and 89% of boomers said participation in financial affairs leads to gender parity.
As for men, 71% of Gen Xers believe women need to be equally involved in long-term financial decisions to achieve gender parity; 74% of millennials said the same and 75% of boomers agreed.

A higher proportion of women in same-sex couples (88%) believe women must be involved in these decisions to have gender equality

Both men and women see joint participation as a way for women to avoid financial surprises, ensure financial security and alleviate concerns. Noteworthy is that more men believe equal participation can enable women to leave a bad relationship (98% for men versus 90% for women).

And regardless of education, industry or income level, women defer to spouses in financial decision making, the research revealed. Forty-six percent of women with advanced degrees defer to their spouse; 50% of those with a college degree turn finances over to their spouse; and 60% of high school graduates defer. Even among women who earn more than their spouses, 41% defer.

Overall, most women said they defer to their spouse because it has always been that way and their spouse knows more about investing and other long-term decisions. They also indicated they have other things to take care of.

Millennial (54%) and Gen X (53%) women, the survey found, are more likely than boomers (39%) to defer to their spouses.

Married millennial women are even more likely than other generations to defer to spouses on long-term financial decisions (54% versus 39% of boomers). Most who defer said their spouse knows more, they have no idea where to begin or they are focused on other tasks. And 58% indicated that they defer to their spouse because they want to be taken care of, and because they want to keep the peace in the relationship.

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