Super contributions reflect gender pay gap

(Australian Associated Press)


The gender pay gap means men receive $12 billion more in employer superannuation contributions each year than women.

Analysis of ATO tax file median balances also reveals that women retire with 36 per cent less super than men and women have less super at every stage.

The super balance gender gap begins to expand when a woman hits her 30s, increasing from just under seven per cent for women in their late 20s to almost 35 per cent once a woman reaches her late 40s.

And one in three women retires with no super balance at all, according to a 2016 Senate report.

A report by financial comparison website Finder reveals women retire with an average $122,848 compared with men who retire with $154,453.

Meanwhile, the Financy Women’s Index fell in the December quarter, predicting that the time frame for achieving financial equality increased to 101 years.

“We are unlikely to see equality in Australia until the year 2122,” Bianca Hartge-Hazelman from the FWI said.

Industry Super Australia strategic engagement director Gemma Pinnell said lifting the rate to 12 per cent as legislated was vital to lift women’s savings, with more women than men likely to receive the super rate increase.

“Until we fix inequities in the super system, like the outdated $450 threshold, we will continue to see women retiring with balances that are persistently lower than men,” she said in a statement on Monday.

New research reveals three-quarters of women are unlikely to retire having received a full 40 years of super contributions, and yet key government modelling assumes everyone retires with four decades of super.

Women average just 30.1 years of contributions, while men average 36.2 years.

The research to be released this week analyses two decades of Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey to estimate the actual labour force experience of women over their life.

It highlights a dramatic flaw in the Retirement Income Review base case modelling which assumes everyone receives 40-years of super contributions – leading to big overestimates in retirement balances.

The report’s co-author Roger Wilkins said it “seems likely” COVID would have increased the unpaid work disparity last year.

“The increase in child care provided at home brought about by closure of child care centres and learning from home is likely to have been disproportionately borne by women,” Mr Wilkins said.

A recent retirement survey, commissioned by Industry Super Australia, found that on average women spend 12 years less in the full-time workforce than men, with that time away from work having a dramatic impact on their super balance.

ISA deputy chief executive Matt Linden said modelling based on wrong assumptions had serious ramifications, with some wanting to cut super for millions who otherwise wouldn’t save enough for retirement.

“This would be a terrible outcome as a more realistic working life pattern shows the current super rate is not adequate for most women to fund a secure retirement,” he said.


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