Media Releases

31 March 2021

ASFA research reveals majority of Australian retirees exhaust their super savings

A new research paper released today by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) indicates that the great bulk of Australians exhaust their superannuation in retirement and leave no superannuation when they pass away.

Using ATO and APRA data and previously unpublished Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey results, the ASFA research has found that:

  • the proportion of the population with superannuation drops sharply with increasing age
  • 80 per cent of people aged 60 and over who died in the period 2014 to 2018 had no super at all in the period of up to four years before their death
  • for those aged 80 plus, over 90 per cent had no super in the four-year period before their death
  • for the age 80 plus group, only 5 per cent of that group had more than $110,000 in superannuation in the period of up to four years before their death
  • even in the case of those who died aged 60 to 69, less than half had any super at all
  • men are more likely to have superannuation than women. For those who died in the period 2014 to 2018 only 15 per cent of females aged 60 plus at death had any superannuation compared to around 25 per cent of men.

“We don’t have a systemic problem with retirees underspending or bequeathing their super – quite the opposite. The majority of Australian retirees run out of super well before the end of their lives,” said ASFA CEO Dr Martin Fahy.

According to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Australia has one of the highest life expectancies in the world at 80.9 years for males and 85 years for females in 2017-19.

“Sadly this new data indicates that 90 per cent of Australian retirees aged over 80 had no superannuation in their final years. The situation is much worse for women. 85 per cent of women who passed away, aged 60 and above, didn’t have any super left at all.

“The main challenge for the Australian superannuation system is to deliver higher superannuation balances at retirement. The solution for ensuring adequacy of retirement incomes is moving the Superannuation Guarantee to 12 per cent.”

For further information, please contact:
Jacqui Maddock, 0451 949 300.

About ASFA
ASFA is the peak policy, research and advocacy body for Australia’s superannuation industry. It is a not-for-profit, sector-neutral, and non-party political, national organisation. ASFA’s mission is to continuously improve the superannuation system, so all Australians can enjoy a comfortable and dignified retirement.