Young adults are waiting longer to buy homes, get married, and have kids than the generations that came before them. It makes sense, then, that they’d use an entirely different set of milestones to mark the transition into adulthood: Opening a savings account, making your rent payments, and signing up for health insurance all qualify as “adulting” by today’s standards. According to a recent study, young women are more likely to have all these boxes checked than their male counterparts. A new report released by Bank of America and USA Today [PDF] shows that 18- to 26-year-old women are more financially independent than their male peers, Fortune reports.
For the study, researchers surveyed 2180 young adults in the first three weeks of July 2016. When breaking down the financial habits of 18- to 26-year-olds, they found some significant differences between male and female respondents. Sixty-one percent of women have savings set aside compared to 55 percent of men. Young women are also more likely to do their own taxes (34 percent compared to 28 percent of men in this age category), have health insurance (33 percent to 25 percent), and pay their own rent (38 percent to 32 percent).
These numbers may look surprising in the context of the growing conversation around the wage gap, but some research shows that women in their 20s actually out-earn men of the same age (by £1111 or $1381 a year, according to data taken from the UK’s Office for National Statistics). It’s around age 30, a.k.a. when more women are starting their families, that the pay gap really begins to widen in favor of men. In addition to a lack of paid family leave and inflexible hours potentially slowing women’s careers, men also tend to advance up the ladder sooner in their careers while female workers struggle to catch up.
While women may be better off financially earlier in life than men, the statistics aren’t altogether reassuring. The fact that college-age students were included in the survey only partly explains why less than 40 percent of all respondents pay their own rent. A Pew survey released over the summer revealed that 32.1 percent of Millennials still live with their parents.
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