I wondered why I hadn't heard of the problem before; to me it was a blatant cut-and-dried example of sexism.
Basically, all that money you pay into a pension fund - what happens when you retire? Do you get your money back? Like hell you do.
You get 25% of it back as a tax-free lump sum, and then you have to buy an income called an "annuity". So if you're a 65-year-old bloke, and you have £100,000 saved up, you could expect to buy an income of about £6,500 a year for life.
Of course, women live longer on average, so a 65-year-old woman with the same amount saved up, buying the same annuity, WILL ONLY GET ABOUT £5,600 A YEAR FOR LIFE (because on average the company will have to pay women a larger number of payments).
Right. So presumably, since men in Barnet live on average 5.4 years longer than men in Lanarkshire, then those men applying for annuities from addresses with a north London postcode will 'enjoy' a proportionally smaller income than the Scots? What about average life expectancy differences by race? Or sexuality? I thought actuaries were supposed to be clever? Is it really beyond their capabilities to average this shit out between men and women?
Still, the whole situation is under review - annuities and all. Also, today I am doing random surfing, and discovered this report on the matter. Apparently it is being fought against after all. Good. Now I won't have to write to the FT.