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Governments and employers must do more to address the gender pay gap and other employment issues to improve retirement outcomes for women, the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) said today.
Commenting on the latest annual Mercer CFA Institute Global Pension Index (MCGPI), AIST CEO Eva Scheerlinck – who is also the president of the World Pension Alliance (WPA) – said the pension income gap between men and women is a systemic problem that needs systemic changes around the world.
This year’s report – which ranked Australia’s retirement income system overall at sixth place out of 43 countries – had a special focus on the pension income gap at retirement, finding that the total pension outcomes in every system provide higher retirement income for males than females.
The range of the global gender pension gap is very broad, from Japan having a gap of almost 50% to Estonia, where it is less than 5%. Australia’s gender pension gap is recorded at around 18%.
Ms Scheerlinck noted that the gender pension income gap cannot be solved by individual women, or by reforming the super system, though more reforms would help. Instead, governments and employers need to look at ways to improve outcomes. These could include tackling gender pay inequity and providing more affordable quality childcare, allowing women to stay longer in the workforce.
“It is a wicked problem that needs a strong focus – women are more likely to work part-time, more likely to earn less than their male equivalents and more likely to take on caring responsibilities. Women are usually negatively impacted financially in relationship break-downs and in general have shorter careers than men and live longer, so require more retirement savings,” Ms Scheerlinck said.
In terms of superannuation reforms to improve the gender gap, AIST continues to urge the government to improve the equity of the super tax concessions (which disproportionally benefit males); to pay super on paid parental leave; and introduce a means-tested one-off Government contribution to repair depleted low-income super balances after the 2020 COVID-19 relaxation of early release provisions.
The Mercer report notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the retirement savings of females to a greater extent than males due to its significant impact on part-time and casual workers, as well as its effect on some female-dominated industries such as hospitality and tourism.
Enquiries: Janet de Silva, AIST Senior Media Manager : [email protected]|0448 000 499
AIST is the peak body for the $1.6 trillion profit-to-member superannuation sector which includes industry, corporate and public-sector funds