News

Superannuation: Women on track to retire with half as much as men, study finds

Posted 24 July, 2017

Source: ABC

Australian women retire with less than half the amount of superannuation than men, and the system was designed to benefit working fathers when it launched 25 years ago, according to a major study.

The study entitled Not So Super, For Women, revealed a woman's median superannuation total by retirement was $80,000 - just 47 per cent of what a man the same age accumulated over the same period.

Author David Hetherington, from think-tank Per Capita, said on average, women retire with less than three years of modest retirement living.

At age 25, women have similar superannuation balances to men, but by the time they reach 35 their balances are 30 per cent lower and the gap continues to widen from there.

"Super was designed in the '80s and '90s for a different model of work and a different model of social structure," said Mr Hetherington.

"The man went to work 40-plus hours a week. It was assumed that women would have a man at home that would do the earning."

He said it systematically disadvantaged women, who were increasingly employed in low-paid, part-time positions.

Lisa Smajlov is a 47-year-old single mother who does not own her own home.

Statistically she is among the nation's most vulnerable when it comes to retirement.

"I was in a domestic violence relationship and when I left my ex, my son was six months old and I couldn't work in the corporate sector," Ms Smajlov said.

The former human resources worker now works in social services and took a part-time role at half her previous salary.

"I'm not doing salary sacrifice at the moment like I did when I was in the corporate sector, when I had a very good salary," she said.

"I don't feel like I'm going to be impacted by not having anywhere to live at the moment but that could be something that could happen down the [line]."

Mr Hetherington said many of the survey responses from women echoed Ms Smaljov's concerns.

"Some of the stories are really visceral and there are plenty … that are disturbing," he said.

"[Like] people having to make a choice whether they keep hot water on in winter or whether they can still have a pet or have food for themselves.

"Some people are contemplating homelessness and basically people are very anxious."

"I don't feel like I'm going to be impacted by not having anywhere to live at the moment but that could be something that could happen down the [line]."

Mr Hetherington said many of the survey responses from women echoed Ms Smaljov's concerns.

"Some of the stories are really visceral and there are plenty … that are disturbing," he said.

"[Like] people having to make a choice whether they keep hot water on in winter or whether they can still have a pet or have food for themselves.

"Some people are contemplating homelessness and basically people are very anxious."