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Who pays for what? Traditional division of tasks is fading among younger generations


Among Dutch married and cohabiting couples, women mainly pay the household expenses, such as groceries, while men pay the larger expenses, such as mortgage payments and taxes. But the trend is shifting: among younger generations, this division of tasks is significantly less clear-cut, a DNB study shows.

Published: 08 March 2024

Een jonge man en vrouw doen samen de boodschappen.

It is important that everyone can conduct their payments autonomously and safely, which is why our researchers looked at the extent to which men and women currently do so. They also looked into the use of digital payment methods and fraud knowledge. The gender gap appears to be narrowing among younger generations. This is an important development in terms of financial self-reliance, for which greater financial literacy and digital skills are key.

Current differences between men and women in the world of payments

Currently, there are still marked differences in terms of who pays for what in Dutch households. Women tend to be in charge of grocery payments and payments to relatives, friends and acquaintances. For instance, 32% of women living with their partners consistently handle grocery shopping payments, while this figure is only 12% for men. Men are more likely to pay fixed expenses such as rent, mortgage payments, insurance premiums, subscriptions and taxes. While 47% of men always take care of the payment of taxes and social contributions, this holds only for 23% of women. The study also found that 7 in 10 individuals cohabitating with their partners check their partner's household payments, irrespective of gender.

Younger generation tend to be jointly in charge of payments

The traditional division of payment tasks is slowly fading. Among younger generations, we find a much less pronounced division. Cohabitants aged under 35 are much more likely to make household payments jointly than older generations (see Figure 1). For example, 47% of men and women from the youngest generation make insurance payments as often as their partner, against 18% of those aged 65 and over.

Figure 1 - Differences between men and women are smaller in younger generations
Share that performs or arranges specific payments equally often

Figure 1.  Differences between men and women are smaller in younger generations

Source: Centerpanel, November-December 2023.

Men are more likely to have experience with digital payment methods than women

The survey also looked at how men and women pay. Overall, contactless debit card payments enjoy the highest preference among both men and women, with roughly half citing this as their number one preference. Men do tend to have more experience with new forms of payment, such as contactless smartwatch payments. More men enjoy trying out new payment methods (see Figure 2), and report having better digital skills. Among the youngest generation, there is no gender gap with regard to experience with different payment instruments.

Figure 2 - Men enjoy trying out new payment methods more

Figure 2. Men enjoy trying out new payment methods more

Source: Centerpanel, November-December 2023.

Women have less knowledge about fraud

Finally, the study looked at fraud knowledge. This is because the world of payments also carries possible dangers, such as various types of scams. Having knowledge about fraud and scams is important to avoid becoming a victim. The survey shows that fraud knowledge is lower among women than among men. This is true for eight of the nine types of fraud we studied (see Figure 3). Remarkably, this applies to all generations.

The knowledge gap is widest with regard to malware. Malware is malicious or misleading software that gets into inadequately secured computers, tablets and smartphones, for example by means of hyperlinks in emails. 72% of men know what malware is, as against 47% of women.

WhatsApp fraud is the best known, while phishing happens the most

There is no knowledge gap with regard to friend-in-need fraud, also known as WhatsApp fraud, in which criminals pretend to be a close acquaintance or relative and ask for money. This is the form of fraud Dutch consumers are most familiar with. They have most frequently encountered phishing – in which criminals try to obtain confidential information – and malware. Women are more likely than men to have encountered friend-in-need fraud and less likely to have encountered phishing, malware and bank helpdesk fraud, in which scammers pretend to be bank employees. Only a small proportion of Dutch people have actually become victims of such fraud. 

Figure 3 - Women have less knowledge about fraud than men

Figure 3. Women have less knowledge about fraud than men

Source: Centerpanel, November-December 2023. * Survey participants were asked about their knowledge of friend-in-need fraud or WhatsApp fraud.

Are you interested to read the full study? Download our report Gender gaps in the world of payments.

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