Submission to Inquiry into Economic security for women in retirement

by John Daley and Brendan Coates

Women’s increasing workforce participation has contributed significantly to Australia’s economic productivity and to women’s financial independence. But significant socio-economic disparity remains between men and women. 

The average woman spends less of her working life in paid work than men. She is more likely to work part-time, and earn lower wages. Her lower average lifetime earnings mean she will not only retire with comparatively less savings, but will be at greater risk of experiencing absolute poverty in retirement due to smaller retirement savings.

Beyond the Age Pension, Australia has a contributory retirement incomes system. Those that save more and accumulate greater assets have higher incomes in retirement. Since women tend to earn less than men over the working lives, they accumulate fewer retirement savings, and receive lower incomes in retirement.

This submission by John Daley, Brendan Coates and Danielle Wood proposes two reforms that could help address the gender gap in retirement savings, and provide a boost to the retirement incomes for the most vulnerable women.