The state with the widest superannuation gap in Australia is Western Australia. Women in WA had an average balance of $84,000, compared with men, who had an average of $132,000. This is a gap of almost 40 per cent.
The study was conducted by Women in Super (WIS) and the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) across large industry superannuation funds.
The gender gap varies between states, as follows:
Queensland - 34 per cent
South Australia - 33 per cent
Tasmania - 33 per cent
Victoria - 31 per cent
Australian Capital Territory - 20 per cent
Northern Territory - 16 per cent
The study tracked the working lives of 24-26-year-olds (early career), 34-36-year-olds (mid-career) and 44-46-year-olds (late career).
In 2002, the youngest cohort had an average gender pay gap of $1,142, while the oldest group had a gap of $21,889. When the researchers measured this amount again in 2011-12, this had widened to $18,608 and $81,769 respectively.
AIST and WIS are calling for the abolishment of the $450 monthly income threshold for compulsory superannuation payments, and paying superannuation during maternity leave. The organisations also want to provide low income earners (who are mostly women) with an additional superannuation contribution, and increase the superannuation guarantee to 12 per cent.
An estimated 40 per cent of single women are retiring in poverty, however the retirement savings problem starts early in a woman’s working life, with the gender pay gap and time spent caring for others, not earning money, resulting in substantially lower account balances. Add to this that women tend to live longer than men, and the problem is compounded.