Media Releases

18 March 2022

Compulsory superannuation is delivering, but more needs to be done for women and the low paid

The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) today released a new research paper which illustrates the progress being made in improving retirement savings due to compulsory superannuation.

“While there is still much work to be done, pleasingly we are starting to move in the right direction in terms of closing the gap between the retirement savings of men and women,” said ASFA CEO, Dr Martin Fahy.

Over the two years to June 2019 the average balance for males grew by 10.8 per cent, while for females it grew by 12.0 per cent. Females held around 42.5 per cent of total superannuation assets, up from 41.9 per cent two years before.

For individuals aged 60 to 64 in June 2019 the average balance for males was $359,870 with a median of $178,800 and for females the average was $289,180 with a median of $137,050. The retirement savings gap based on the median figures is 23.4 per cent. This is well down on the 47 per cent gap figure cited by many commentators, which is now out of date as it applied to those aged 55 to 64 in Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures for 2013-14.

However, the median figures are still well short of the amounts needed to support a comfortable standard of living in retirement.

“While it will be more than 30 years before most individuals in retirement will have had the full benefit of the Superannuation Guarantee, the proportion of new retirees who are fully self-funded has been increasing.

“Moving compulsory contributions to 12 per cent, as is legislated, together with other targeted policy measures is necessary to reduce the retirement savings gap for many Australians,” said Dr Fahy.

Taking time out of the paid labour force for family responsibilities has a big impact on the superannuation balances of women at retirement. Analysis in the paper indicates that taking a year off for each of two children can lead to 10 per cent less in superannuation at the time of retirement.

ASFA analysis also shows that the introduction of a $5,000 Superannuation Baby Bonus together with payment of the Superannuation Guarantee on paid parental leave would largely eliminate this deficit.

The paper also contains data on the superannuation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and of persons who were born in non-English speaking countries. On average their super balances are lower than for the population as a whole. Targeted measures, such as extension of the Low Income Superannuation Tax Offset, will assist these groups and low income earners more generally.

For further information, please contact:
ASFA Media team, 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.

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