Different thoughts abound in Ruth Ogba’s mind as she gathered her two children into the general living area of their self-contained home. It is prayer time, an opportunity for Bible reading. As her 10-year-old son reads a passage in a clear voice, his six year old sister listens. As Mark reads, 33- year-old Ruth reminisces. She has been married to David Ogba for 11 years, and as she watches Sofia thoughts of gratitude filter through. Sofia is a bright happy child and Mark was one of the best performing students in his public school. From primary five, he is set to go to secondary school. Yet, David says there is not enough money, and Mark might have to go to primary six.
“Now that the economy is like this, it is not easy to provide many things for our children. I know Mark is excited about the prospect of boarding school, but school fees, his clothes, feeding and house rent are all due. Business has been slow, and what little we have made, has no gain inside,” David says.
Women are advised to invest for the future by finding a husband while men are advised to save for their future wife and family. Despite societal developments, over the past few years, men and women have not yet achieved the same growth in the field of investment. The investment gap between men and women is either due to sex stems, cultural expectation and inborn tendencies around gender roles and income gap. In most cases, women are more likely than men to earn less than men, with the difference being even larger at higher income levels. Sometime it becomes very difficult to predict whether this gap is due to nature or nurture. Over the last few decades, researchers have confirmed that “men do not like to ask for directions, while women like to do everything in company of other women.” This reveals that men and women both have different approaches in learning about anything whether it is accounting, investing or saving.
Ruth rents a stall in Kaura market. It’s an upcoming market, with slow foot traffic. On his part, David sells building materials in Dei-Dei. Like the large number of self employed in Nigeria, they contend with the challenges of surviving, while earning a living in Nigeria’s vast informal sector.
According to statistics, the annual inflation rate is at 17 per cent, the highest in eleven years. Nigeria’s economy is formally in recession and Nigerians are feeling the pinch. Market women like Ruth are groaning under the rising price of local food products. The government has attributed the recession to several factors; attacks in the Niger Delta that reduced Nigeria’s oil production, a drop in world oil prices, and shortage of foreign currency. The same issues have a trickle down affect in the building sector.
But who should have been able to save for what is now the ‘rainy day’?
Maureen Emmanuel a trader says, “The current financial woes in Nigeria has shown whom among men and women can save better. My husband now values the effort I put into making the house allowance meet the needs of the household.”
However, Paul Attah says “What we are seeing in our country means that my wife has to manage. Sometimes my salary does not come at the end of the money, and when I see small cash, I am tasked with ensuring that money is spent according to the priority. If it were up to her, nothing will remain.”
For Blessing Etim, “I am not married. If you take some money to the market to buy something, before you know it, it is all gone. Now I do not buy luxury items like perfume, just basic deodorant. That money I save, because we don’t know how things will go. But for men, they are still drinking; I doubt they think saving is important,” she says.
‘’Everything is just hard,” says Abdul Lateef, “And my family expects me to provide for three meals a day. How can I meet up, and still think of saving? As for me, I’ll just be eating like two times a day so that I can have enough for the extra they need at home.”
On the part of scientists, though both sexes are capable of equivalent intellectual performance. Women have a thicker corpus callosum, the bridge of nerve tissue that connects the left and right side of the brain, leading women to use both sides of their brains to solve problems. Men predominately use the left side of their brains for this purpose. Also, women are believed to save at higher rates than men, as women put away 7 per cent to 16 per cent more of their income than men. Yet, women are less likely to engage in risky investment behaviour, such as frequent trading.
Despite those good habits, women are significantly behind men in the amount they have put away. Men have average account balances that are 50 per cent higher than women’s. A number of studies have shown that the economic wellbeing and financial behaviours of men and women which differ significantly are responsible for this. Women hold lower levels of wealth and have significantly lower earnings than men. This combination of lower earnings has meant lower savings. However, men with higher earnings are more likely to make investments, rather than save actual cash.