Women earn less, retire with less and live longer… great. 9



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A white paper commissioned by one of Australia’s largest banks has found that full-time working women today will earn on average $700,000 less throughout their lifetime than men and are 15 per cent more likely to retire in poverty.

The ANZ Women’s Report: Barriers to Achieving Gender Equity estimated women will end a 45-year career with, on average, around half as much superannuation as men.

While this is dire news for our daughters and granddaughters, hopefully it will trigger the attitudinal shift required to address the gender imbalance that exists today.

But where does that leave us?

In a 2011 report, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that by the time we reach retirement, there is a significant gap in wealth between men and women. The average superannuation payout in 2009-10 at retirement (ages 60-64) was approximately $198,000 for men and just $112,600 for women. For single women, this amount would only last five years, even with a modest budget.

Georgina Williams, AustralianSuper’s Group Executive, Engagement, Advocacy & Brand says, “Around 90 per cent of women are likely to finish their working lives with too little in super savings to fund a comfortable lifestyle in retirement. Women retire, on average, with about half the super of men, and one in three will retire with no super at all.

Ms Williams acknowledges that saving a decent super balance is harder for women due to their roles as carers and parents, plus the lower rates of pay women tend to receive.

“But they shouldn’t panic,” she says. “They should take action.”

Some of the steps she suggests women take are:

  1. Check that all your super is in one place. “If you have had several different jobs, you might have accumulated a few different super accounts – and be paying fees on each one,” says Ms Williams. It should be easy to move all your money into one fund via a form on your super fund’s website. “That simple move can save thousands of dollars in the long term.”
  2. Make sure you are paying the lowest fee possible. “Industry funds like AustralianSuper don’t make a profit for shareholders – so our fees are low by industry standards, and any profit goes straight back to members,” says Ms Williams. 
  3. If you’re still working, find out if you qualify for the government’s Low Income Super Contribution of up to $500 a year, which unfortunately is being phased out.
  4. And finally, top up while you can. “If you can find even a few dollars each month to put into super, it could be really worthwhile. As little as $50 extra a month can add more to your super balance by the time you retire,” says Ms Williams.

Do you worry about money in your retirement? Do you worry about your daughters and granddaughters? 


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. We sure have not even things up yet for women, hopefully the next generations will carry on the fight

  2. Never made sense to me …Why. when they work hard too,and get payed less,something is wrong with this thinking…especially today.

  3. This is very true for women “our age”. We started work when there was huge difference in wages between males and females and this was even written into some industrial awards. We are also probably the last generation where a large. Umber of women stayed home for many years to raise their children without all the government assistance parents receive today. We did not have baby bonuses or paid parental leave – we even had to leave work when we “were showing” in some workplaces. As many of these situations no longer apply women retiring in a few years will have less inequity. Also we didn’t start our superannuation schemes until the Government of the day introduced compulsory Superannuation at 3% when we were in our forties while women in their thirties to mid forties (give or take) have had superannuation since they were 18 and at higher rates.

  4. I am possibly the exception as I retired with a lot more super than my husband. However I am sure the premise of women having less than the men is correct.

  5. Statistics show that more women than men are graduating in some of the top earning professions eg, law and medicine. As an HR manager, I never heard of an organisation paying women less than men or an award that permitted it as it is illegal in Australia.
    Some of the occupations that attract women were paid less, but the few men in those occupations received the same wages.
    As an educated guess, women have received less pay because they take time out to raise children and because the occupations to which they are drawn pay lower salaries. As more women become better educated and go for higher paying jobs, this challenge will diminish, but biology is the cause of the child raising issue and is less easy to solve.

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