Retirement Income

Thu, 20 Jul, 2017Georgia Dixon

How superannuation puts women at a disadvantage: "I will be stuffed"

How superannuation puts women at a disadvantage: "I will be stuffed"

A landmark new study has found that when it comes to superannuation, women are undoubtedly getting the short end of the stick.

The report, which drew data from 4,000 union members and the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics survey, found that women are on track to retire with around half the super balance of men, at only $80,000 – barely enough to live off for three years on a strict budget, the Sydney Morning Herald reveals.

“I will be stuffed,” one participant said. “I expect to be poor, I may become functionally homeless,” said another.

“Women continue to be financially penalised across our lifetime because of our reproductive capacity, our lower wages and because of deadbeat dads who refuse to pay their share of the financial burden of raising their children (not all dads are like this but, by God, there's a lot of them),” one respondent heartbreakingly explained.

The report’s authors, David Hetherington from think tank Per Capita and Warwick Smith of the Australian Services Union, say superannuation doesn’t take into account the fact that not every worker is an employee – after all, almost a quarter of working women work on a casual, contract or subcontract basis, or may work for themselves.

In fact, half of all working women are employed part-time, compared to just 20 per cent of men, and those women who do work full-time are earning an average of 20 per cent less.

Hetherington and Smith instead recommend an individually-assessed scheme, in which their super balance would be measured against an “accumulation pathway” modelling what balance one would need at every age to afford a basic retirement. Any gaps could then be closed by top-up payments made by the government of 2.5 per cent of income for those falling more than 5 per cent below the pathway.

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