Women are still more likely to end up the poorer half in a relationship when it comes to finances, according to a Birmingham study.

Large financial inequalities still exist between couples, especially after a divorce or childbirth, according to Professor Stephen McKay, from Birmingham University. Based on responses from 10,000 couples nationwide, the study found large differences in men's and women's levels of debts, savings and private pension provisions.

In a household, women often receive less than half the financial accumulation - incomes and assets - and struggle to restore parity with their partner after childbirth.

The report, Women's Financial Assets and Debts, was published by the Fawcett Society, a charity dedicated to closing the pay gap between the sexes.

It dealt with the idea that income alone is not a satisfactory measure of a person's financial well-being and was not the only factor when assessing the financial position of men and women.

The study compared men and women's financial position as individuals rather than as a unit, especially when saving for pensions. Prof McKay said: "This report is the first time that the data available has been used to break down the financial dynamic within a couple, and so it has been quite challenging.

"Despite all the social advances that have been made over the last 20 years, there are still significant inequalities in the finances of men and women.

"The pay gap that exists between them is fuelling deeper disparities in savings and pension provision and it must be a priority to address the inequity that exists."

The report assessed the financial behaviour of men compared with women through different stages of their lives, and found the sexes react differently in financial terms to personal changes.

Financial differences are magnified when relationships break down through separation or divorce and men tend to recover back to their pre-divorce income more quickly than women.

Another conclusion was that the impact of the birth of a first child can be considerable and becoming a parent has a much greater "economic shock" on women than on men. Before a couple have a child, both parents are likely to save an equal amount. However, a year after a birth, both parents will be saving less but with women at a far greater reduction. The research also established that women's savings did not recover to more than 40 per cent of the pre-birth level, whereas men will return to normal saving rates ten years later.

Dr Katherine Rake, director of the Fawcett Society, said: "We have further evidence here that where money is concerned there is still a big divide."