1. Releases 2015

Media Release: 8 December 2015

Average super balances rise, but no improvement in gender disparity: ASFA

  • Average superannuation balances up 20 per cent, to $98,535 for men and $54,916 for women
  • Share of superannuation assets held by women plateaued over the four years to 2013/2014 after growing significantly over the previous two decades
  • Younger Australians more engaged with super, as average balances almost double over a two year period

Average superannuation balances have risen for both men and women, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics data compiled exclusively for the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA). The data also shows that the share of superannuation assets across the system held by women has plateaued over a four year period after two decades of growth.

The average balances in 2013/2014 for all persons aged 15 and over were $98,535 for men and $54,916 for women. This is an approximate 20 per cent increase from two years' prior (2011/2012), where average balances were $82,615 and $44,866 for men and women respectively.

Average superannuation balances at the time of retirement also rose, to $292,500 for men and $138,150 for women in 2013/2014 from $197,000 and $105,000 respectively in 2011/2012.

"It is great to see that average superannuation account balances are rising, but there is still a way to go to ensure that the majority of Australians can retire in comfort," said Pauline Vamos, chief executive officer, ASFA.

"According to the ASFA Retirement Standard, a single person will need a minimum of $545,000 in superannuation at retirement to live a comfortable lifestyle. This is assuming that they will draw down all of their capital over the duration of retirement, and that they will receive a part Age Pension.

"Even with reliance on the Age Pension, a retiree with a balance of less than this may struggle to maintain the lifestyle in retirement that they are accustomed to. People today are living longer and often retiring with more debt than generations before."

The share of superannuation assets held by women (36.4 per cent) has plateaued over the four years to 2013/2014 after growing significantly over the previous two decades. Women have also experienced a lesser percentage increase than men in average balance at the time of retirement, with the average balance for men increasing by 48.5 per cent over the two years to 2013/14 compared to 31.6 per cent for women.

"This is likely to reflect the different work patterns and earnings levels on average of men and women in their pre-retirement years," explained Ms Vamos.

"Even though account balances are increasing overall for women, the statistics still show that men are more likely to have superannuation than women, and also that men on average have a higher account balance. In many cases, broken work patterns and lower average wages still impede on women's ability to save for retirement."

Gender disparity in superannuation balances is now on the agenda, and the next step is for government, employers and individuals to take action.

"ASFA has proposed a number of options for improving the economic security of women in retirement, including raising and broadening the Superannuation Guarantee, retaining the Low Income Superannuation Contribution Scheme and amending annual contribution caps to enable people with broken working patterns to 'catch up' their superannuation contributions," concluded Ms Vamos.

The good news is that younger people are saving more. For individuals in their early 30s, average balances rose to $36,400 for men and $25,550 for women in 2013/2014, almost two times the average balances of $20,000 for men and $14,000 for women two years earlier.

Small change, big savings

For more tips on maximising your retirement savings, visit www.superguru.com.au.

For further information, or a high-res infographic, please contact Adele Gilbert.

Key findings from the ASFA report

  • Average balances achieved in 2013-14 for all persons aged 15 and over were $98,535 for men and $54,916 for women. These averages are up (by around 20 per cent) on the balances of $82,615 for men and $44,866 for women in 2011/2012.
  • For only those with superannuation (excluding persons with a nil balance), the average balance for males was around $135,000 while for females it was around $83,000.
  • For individuals aged 30 to 34 in 2013/2014, average balances were around $36,400 for men and $25,550 for women. These are up from the average balances of $20,000 for men and $14,000 for women two years earlier.
  • Average superannuation balances at the time of retirement (assumed to be age 60 to 64) were $292,500 for men and $138,150 for women in 2013/2014. These figures are well up on 2011/2012 when the averages at age 60 to 64 were $197,000 for men and only $105,000 for women:
    • these average figures are considerably higher than those that applied in 2005/2006, which were $136,000 for men and only $63,000 for women. However, the percentage increase in average balances for women at the time of retirement has been lower than that for men
    • medians (the amount at which 50 per cent of the population surveyed have less than the amount) are somewhat lower, with a median of $100,000 for men and only $28,000 for women, reflecting substantial proportions of the age group with nil or low superannuation.
  • Between 2005/2006 and 2013/2014 there were substantial improvements in the coverage of superannuation in the community with a smaller proportion of persons with no superannuation and an increase in the incidence of more substantial superannuation balances.
  • Around 26.9 per cent of males reported nil superannuation in 2013/2014, and 33.9 per cent of women. Around 55 per cent of females aged 65 to 69 reported having no superannuation.

To download the research paper, click here.