In the last decade the superannuation gender gap has narrowed from 40.9% to 27.8%.
According to the latest figures from Roy Morgan, the average super balance of women in 2008 was $68,000, or 59.1% of the average male super balance of $115,000 (a gap of 40.9%). By 2018 the gap had narrowed, to an average balance for women of $127,000, or 72.2% of the $176,000 average male balance (a gap of 27.8%).
Roy Morgan said that a “great deal of publicity has been given to this issue in an attempt to close the gap and improving the retirement funding of females” and that this had “resulted in real progress”.
In part the gap has narrowed because the super balances of women have been growing faster – up 87% over the last 10 years, compared to 53% for men.
The proportion of women with superannuation has also increased – in 2008 66.5% of men and 57.4% of women had some super. By 2018 this was 69.0% for men and 64.7% for women.
Roy Morgan notes that the average income of women in employment is 74.6% that of the male average male and that this is “very close” to the average super gender gap of 72.2%.
“Good progress has been made over the last decade regarding the average female superannuation balance and ownership levels and as a result they are closing the gap on males,” said Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director with Roy Morgan.
He said that there had been “significant improvement,” but there was still a “long way to go”.
“Despite real gains in employment for women over the last decade, they still lag men in terms of full time employment and as a consequence a greater proportion of women are in part time work with its associated lower annual income. This contributes to average incomes of only around 75% of the male average, which in turn leads to lower superannuation contributions and balances compared to males.”
“In addition to problems associated with lower average incomes, females are 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 Morris said that, generally, everyone is unlikely to fund an adequate retirement based solely on their superannuation unless contribution levels increase and remain elevated for several decades. Instead there is a need for a more “holistic” understanding of wealth that can be used to fund retirement.