The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) has reported a huge disparity in the superannuation that women retire on compared with men.
Last year, the mean superannuation balance for women across all age groups – from workers just starting out to retirees – was $68,000, compared with $112,000 for men.
Women who retired in 2016 had an average super balance of $157,000, while men had an average balance of $271,000.
While the gap is beginning to close, it is doing so at a snail’s pace. Super balances for women have jumped 53% in the past two years. For men, the rise has been 35%.
The results show that superannuation is not nearly enough to live on for men or women, but women suffer most in retirement, with an average $120,000 less in super.
The figures expose the reality of women’s lives as both workers and homemakers. Women are expected to put their working lives on hold to rear children and care for the family, including elderly parents.
This often means that they work reduced hours or are taken out of the workforce entirely while men continue to work.
The effects of insufficient superannuation, rising rental costs and attacks on pensioners have led to a new crisis of homelessness among elderly women.
A report by Homelessness Australia found that couch surfing among older women has almost doubled over the past four years. There has also been a similar rise in the number of older women sleeping in cars.
The superannuation system is broken.
An adequate national retirement “pension” should replace workplace and voluntary superannuation so that everyone can enjoy this entitlement commensurate with their individual needs and social responsibilities.