Gender disparity persists in super

Despite some suggestions to the contrary, a significant gender gap still exists when it comes to superannuation savings, according to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA).

Data compiled for ASFA by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that average super balances for 2013-14 were up 20 per cent from 2011-12 – $98,535 for men and $54,916 for women.

“Even though account balances are increasing overall for women, the statistics still show that men are more likely to have superannuation than women, and also that men on average have a higher account balance," ASFA chief executive Pauline Vamos said.

“In many cases, broken work patterns and lower average wages still impede women's ability to save for retirement.”

ASFA said the average balance for men at the time of retirement was $292,500 in 2013-14, while for women it came to $138,150.

According to the association, women have experienced a smaller percentage increase than men in average balance at the time of retirement, with the average super balance for men increasing by 48.5 per cent over the two years to 2013-14 compared with 31.6 per cent for women.

Moreover, the share of superannuation assets held by women, currently 36.4 per cent, also plateaued over the four years to 2013-14.

“ASFA has proposed a number of options for improving the economic security of women in retirement, including raising and broadening the superannuation guarantee, retaining the Low Income Superannuation Contribution Scheme and amending annual contribution caps to enable people with broken working patterns to 'catch up' on their superannuation contributions," Ms Vamos said.

Government, employers and individuals must take action on the gender disparity within super, the association said.

“It is great to see that average superannuation account balances are rising, but there is still a way to go to ensure that the majority of Australians can retire in comfort,” Ms Vamos said.

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