Another twist on the gender savings gap

 

Sometimes reality differs from what we intuitively suspect - quite often in regard to investments and savings. Take the superannuation of elderly retired females as an example.

 

Sometimes reality differs from what we intuitively suspect - quite often in regard to investments and savings. Take the superannuation of elderly retired females as an example.

Given the greater average longevity of women, we might jump to the conclusion that more retired females than males aged over 75 receive superannuation pensions.

Not so, says the latest Superannuation Market Projections Report published by consultants Rice Warner.

"This reflects past superannuation savings practices," the report states. "Women retiring with small balances tend to take lump sums or spend their pensions in the early years of retirement.

As other Rice Warner research confirms, women have lower average super savings throughout their working lives. And this gender savings gap rises significantly from age 35, in part because the majority of women take time out of the workforce to raise children.

Factors contributing to this gender savings inequality include the lower average incomes of women, lost promotions from women interrupting their careers to have children and the small proportion of women holding senior jobs. The list goes on.

In the 65-69 age group, an estimated 363,000 retired women were receiving super pensions as at June 2015 compared to 276,000 men. Yet in the 75 to 79 age group, an estimated 144,000 women were receiving super pensions against 193,000 men.

And the gap continues to broaden with age. For instance in the 80-84 age group, an estimated 58,000 women received a super pension compared to 100,000 men.

Aside from the critical issue of the gender inequality in super savings, a point worth emphasising is that the higher a fund member's balance, the more likely that a superannuation pension rather than a lump sum upon retirement. This is obviously regardless of gender.

The Senate Economics References Committee's current inquiry on economic security for women in retirement is due to report late next month.


By Robin Bowerman
Smart Investing 
Principal & Head of Retail, Vanguard Investments Australia
03 April 2016 | Retirement and superannuation

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