• FWX Mar qtr 2024  78.3
  • FWX yr-o-yr  3.66
  • FWX qtr-o-qtr  2
  • ASX 200 Boards years to equality  5.6
  • Underemployment years to equality  19.9
  • Superannuation years to equality  17.7
  • Gender pay gap years to equality  23.3
  • Employment years to equality  25.6
  • Unpaid work years to equality  45.5
  • Education years to equality  389

No chance of retirement equality for our daughters

Craig Swanger, chief investment officer at Super Fierce sums up what’s needed to make superannuation fairer for women.
Craig Swanger
September 2, 2022

The gender pay gap is currently so large that my daughter, currently 18 years old, has no chance of retirement income equality by the time she retires in 2070!

We looked at the total pool of superannuation held by each gender, the total pool of other investments, and the amount paid in aged pension by gender, and calculated the average retirement incomes of each gender. For male Aussie retirees, the answer is $911.64 per week. For retired Aussie ladies, $582.03 per week, a massive 36.2% less.

The reasons for this are each quite simple, but unless all of them are solved, retirement equality will never be achieved. Ever.

The issues stem from two main sources:

  1. Our superannuation system is gender-unaware. In fact the conversation about superannuation gender gaps is itself biased. The industry body, ASFA, celebrated the fall of the gender super gap to 23% recently. This was maddening for two reasons: Firstly, ASFA’s data only looks at people with super. Problem is that nearly twice as many women as men have no super at all!  Second problem is that women live more than four years more, which means they actually need 13% more super just to have the same income in retirement.

Super’s very structure is gender unaware as it ignores the fact that women are responsible for the vast majority of unpaid care of children and elderly family, and live far longer than men. These gender differences result is a 44% difference in superannuation funded retirement incomes, not the 23% celebrated by ASFA.

As a final insult to add to injury, ASIC just two months ago published new standards for financial advisers requiring them to assume that men and women live to the same age!

  1. While aged pensions are identical for men and women, they do not allow for the fact that women are 70% more likely to need aged care than men, simply because of the societal norm that men marry women younger than them, resulting in men’s aged care largely falling on their spouses, but women needing to pay for aged care.

The “good news” is that because women have less super and other investment income, they are more likely to get the aged pension. This reduces the gender retirement income gap to 36%.

Government Policy Changes Required

For the super system to be gender aware and enable equality, taxation or contribution rules need to change to value women’s unpaid care and allow for their additional longevity. This was the recommendation of the Australian Human Rights Commission and several other submissions to the Retirement Income Review, but as yet not taken up by any side of politics.

While controversial, the math is actually pretty simple. A gender-aware contribution tax rates that credit women for unpaid care leave time, providing them with contributions tax credits than means they will pay no contributions tax for several years after their unpaid care years, funding this with caps on tax concessions on high balance accounts (the vast majority of which are men’s). Or even simpler but much more controversial, tax all men’s contributions at 19% and women’s at 11% and review this every 20 years or so to adjust for societal changes around unpaid care.

Or we can fix it ourselves

Enter the new breed of advisers that are independent from these vested interests and from government. Groups like Financy cut through the attempts to cover up the real gender inequalities. And then groups like Super Fierce help women take matters into their own hands, and fight back to get their fair share of their hard earned superannuation.


Financy is a fearless believer in economic equality, which uses data insights to accelerate progress and support organisational efforts in diversity, equity & inclusion.


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Craig Swanger
September 2, 2022
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