Older women are making the biggest gains in closing the superannuation gap with men, new Roy Morgan research shows.
Based on a survey of 300,000 people with super over the past decade, the analysis shows women are growing their average super balances faster than men.
The good news potentially shows that women have heeded longstanding warnings that they were likely to retire with up to $120,000 less in savings than men if their super was not boosted.
The Roy Morgan data shows women aged 60 and over have an average super balance of $262,000, or $102,000 less than an equivalent male.
Women aged between 50 and 59 have an average super balance of $207,000, just $90,000 less than an equivalent male.
However, the Roy Morgan data indicated that neither sex was likely to be weaned off the Age Pension altogether during retirement unless contributions to super are increased.
“The average superannuation balance held by females in 2008 was $68,000 or only 59.1 per cent of the male average of $115,000,” according to the report.
Moves to address the gap over the past decade had led to the average superannuation balance for females increasing to 72.2 per cent of males’ balances.
Women aged 50 to 59 narrowed the gender gap the fastest, going from only 54.5 per cent of the male average in 2008 to 69.7 per cent today.
“Females over 60 have the lowest incidence of superannuation but they have higher balances than younger females due to contributing for longer.”
Women aged up to 34 years of age had the smallest gap, at 85.6 per cent of the average super balances of men the same age.
In older age groups, the gaps can be partly explained by the fact that women have interrupted careers to raise families, often return to work part time rather than full time, and their average wages are considerably lower than their male counterparts.
The average wage of a woman aged between 50 to 59 years is $66,700, compared with a man’s $94,900, the research showed. Women over 60 years earn an average $59,100 compared with men on $86,500.
“Despite real gains in employment for women over the past decade, they still lag men in terms of full-time employment,” Roy Morgan industry communications director Norman Morris said.
“As a consequence, a greater proportion of women are in part-time work with its associated lower annual income … which in turn leads to lower superannuation contributions and balances compared to males. Females are (also) more likely to have interrupted employment.
“However, despite these negative factors operating against them, women have made gains in closing the superannuation gap to men.”
But the pollster sounded a warning about the adequacy of super balances in future.
“Generally, both sexes are still unlikely to fund an adequate retirement entirely from superannuation unless contribution levels are increased and continue higher for several decades,” Mr Morris said.
“We have seen in the newly released Roy Morgan Wealth Report that there is a need for a more holistic understanding of an individual’s net wealth that goes beyond superannuation and includes other investments, home ownership, debt levels, personal and household incomes, bank accounts, financial attitudes and other factors that have the potential to have a major impact on retirement funding.”
Do you think employers and governments should act to help women close the super gap even further?