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Over 50 and a woman? Better get saving for retirement

The two most important things you need to do are no secret: start shoveling money into retirement savings accounts and stay on the job for quite a while. Full credit: Megan Pendergrass/CNNMoney

Women who hit 50 without any retirement savings may have to stash away half their paychecks if they want their golden years to be comfortable.

The average 50-year old single female New Yorker has to start saving 49% of income to afford a comfortable retirement in the city, according to a new study by UBS.

The Swiss bank’s report, published Tuesday, calculated how much the average 50-year old woman would have to put aside, on top of mandatory retirement saving programs, in major cities around the world.

The authors assumed the woman had no substantial prior savings, average pay for the age group, and 10 more working years before retirement.

“Our results show that no mandatory system provides enough for the ‘average’ Jane to finance her favored lifestyle in retirement,” the report said.

Women on average make less than men, meaning they have to save a bigger chunk of their salaries to achieve a similar standard of living in retirement.

The UBS economists took into account retirement age, life expectancy, cost of living, inflation and tax systems across 12 cities.

The results vary enormously. In the Swiss city of Zurich, the savings requirement is only 11% of income, on top of state pension contributions. But in Tokyo, Taipei and Hong Kong, the dream of a comfortable retirement is just that — women there would actually have to save more than their entire salary.

The number drops to 47% of income in London, and to between 37% and 41% in Sydney, Singapore, Paris, Munich and Milan.

Toronto was the only city outside Asia where a 50-year old woman would have to save more than half of her income — 62% — to live comfortably in retirement.

The authors of the report said that aging populations in the developed world means that pension systems are becoming ever more stretched.

In the European Union, there are now only 3.5 people working for each retiree, compared to almost seven in 1950.

“This means that relatively fewer economically active people have to support a growing number of retirees for a longer period,” the UBS said.

In the U.S., where life expectancy is lower and the retirement age higher, there are four workers for every retiree.