The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company Worth For Women Survey Finds That Women Do More But Think Less of It

Women Continue to Underestimate Their Own Value

Results of a new survey of American adults, released just in time for Mother’s Day by The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, suggest that both moms and single women do more work at home but, unlike their male counterparts, don’t think enough about the value of what they do.

In Penn Mutual’s third annual Worth for Women Survey, women and men were asked to place a dollar value on the work they do away from their jobs. Both groups put the dollar estimate at around $25,000 per year. Respondents were then asked to list the hours they spent doing a variety of work or services, such as laundry, meal preparation or child care (see Table 1). When Penn Mutual calculated the value of the actual hours reported doing household jobs, they found that men overestimate the value of what they do by almost 13 percent. In contrast, women across the country were found to underestimate the worth of all they do for their homes and families.

When the actual median value of services was computed, a woman’s contribution to the home was $34,256 versus $19,322 for men. Men were 9 percent more likely to overestimate their contribution by $30,000 or more. The person most likely to underestimate her worth is the mother of a minor child—her computed worth is $44,913 while her perceived worth is $29,000.  Over half (52 percent) of these women underestimate their worth by at least $10,000; 36 percent do so by at least $30,000.

“As a life insurance company, we often see evidence that women underestimate their value to their families—with serious or tragic consequences when that work has to be replaced by outsiders after the untimely death of a wife or mother,” said Tracy Marrocco, Director of Women’s Marketing for Penn Mutual. “Far too many families fail to account for this value, leaving women uninsured or under-insured.  This survey revealed that women own significantly less coverage than men do, with the median individual coverage amount for women being $100,000 as compared to $150,000 for men.”

Women, of course, understand that life insurance provides a death benefit, but lack knowledge when it comes to the different life insurance products available and the unique benefits they provide. For example, the Worth Survey found that women place high value on building cash reserves to borrow from for expenditures such as paying for college or starting a new business, but they often aren’t aware that permanent life insurance can provide this benefit.1  Clearly, it’s difficult to make an informed decision when purchasing life insurance if you under-estimate your worth and aren’t aware of all the options.

“What’s surprising is how significantly women under-value the contributions they make to their homes and families—yet this thinking has negative repercussions for women and their loved ones and undermines their prospects for a secure financial future,” said Marrocco. “At Penn Mutual, we encourage women to first know their worth and then take the necessary steps to assure a bright future for themselves and their families through the complete value of life insurance.”

The annual tracking study was conducted by Penn Mutual from March 2 to March 17, 2011, and encompassed interviews with a nationally representative sample of women and men ages 25 to 64.  The sample included women and men across a wide income spectrum, those with and without life insurance, and both married and single parents. 
1 Outstanding loans and withdrawals will reduce a policy's stated cash value and death benefit.  Life insurance policies may be subject to certain costs, limitations and restrictions not outlined above.  Consult with a qualified financial professional for further information.

The annual survey is a key component of Penn Mutual’s Worth initiative, which offers educational resources and tools that advocate women take charge of their financial futures by considering the entirety of their value to home and family.

“We created our Worth initiative to advance and expand our commitment to provide financial education and resources for women. Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to remind these women, who are the mainstays of the American family, of their full worth,” Marrocco said.

Among these resources is the Worth Calculator, which allows a woman to measure her true economic value, including often-overlooked contributions like childcare, budget management and homemaking. For more information, go to

Table 1: Weekly Estimates Spent on Selected Household Tasks by Male and Female Parents (Median # of Hours)

Gender Weekly Housekeeping Weekly Laundry Weekly Food
Prep/Cleanup Cooking
Weekly Food
Prep/Cleanup Waitress/Waiter
Travel for Children/
Misc: Animal Caretaker
Male 0 1 2 1 1 0


4 3 5 2 2 1
Who Spends More Time? +4 Female +2 Female +3 Female +1 Female +1 Female +1 Female

About The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company

Since 1847, Penn Mutual has been driven by our noble purpose to create a world of possibilities.  At the heart of this purpose is the belief that life insurance is the most protective, responsible and rewarding action a person can take, and is central to a sound financial plan. The company is committed to helping families unlock life's possibilities through life insurance and annuity solutions.  This is accomplished through a national network of financial professionals, who help clients make great things possible.  Penn Mutual supports its field representatives with brokerage services through Hornor, Townsend & Kent, Inc., Registered Investment Advisor and wholly owned subsidiary. Member FINRA/SIPC. Visit Penn Mutual on the Internet at Access the Worth Calculator on the Worth for Women website:

The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, 600 Dresher Road, Horsham, PA 19044

Barb Parassio, Karma, (215) 790-7813,
Keith Bratz, Penn Mutual, (215) 956-7907,


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