Women outpace men on super growth


New Roy Morgan research finds women's average superannuation balances are growing at a faster rate than men's, while ownership levels have also risen.

Based on a survey of half a million participants, the research found that since 2012, the average super balance for women has grown faster at 38% to $154,000 versus men's 26% to $216,000. Back then, women's retirement savings averaged $111,000 and men had $172,000.

Currently, 70.9% of women have a super account while 74.8% of men have one. A decade ago, only 66.2% of women had a super account while men had 74.8%. The gap has effectively reduced from 8.6% to 3.9% points.

In terms of income, women with superannuation and currently work earn on average $72,000, compared to men who make $95,300 per annum.

Female workers from all age groups have much lower average incomes than males, which the research attributes to nearly half (45.3%) working in a part-time capacity.

Women aged 18-24 on average earn 85.8% of the wage of males of the same age - the closest income gap for any of the age groups. This figure drops to 70.6% for females aged 65 years and over.

"Clearly part-time work is associated with a lower annual income than full-time work and this continues to contribute to the ongoing gender superannuation gap," says Roy Morgan chief executive, Michele Levine.

"The latest figures on income show that average female incomes are at only around 76% of the male average, which in turn leads to lower superannuation contributions and balances compared to males."

Industry Super Australia calculates it will take 40 years for women to catch up to men's super balance, using a median super balance for a woman in her early 60s of $159,600 compared to the male median of $210,800.

According to advocacy director Georgia Brumby, the first step in making super fairer is to pay super on parental leave.

"It is a glaring inequity that leads to millions of mums being worse off retirement. Young and lower paid women are bearing the brunt of the unpaid super scourge - those least able to afford it."

This article first appeared on Financial Standard

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Karren Vergara is a financial journalist with Financial Standard, covering wealth management, including superannuation, banking and financial planning. Prior to becoming a journalist, she was an accountant for more 10 years. She has a diploma in journalism and Bachelor's degree in business, both from UTS.