One way to close the superannuation savings gap between men and women would be to keep paying super to women when they go on leave to have children – one of the main reasons that women’s super accounts end up somewhere around $80,000 poorer than men’s at the end of their careers.
The suggestion was made by Dr Carly Moulang from the Monash Business School, who recently unveiled new findings about the perennial problem. Research from 2002 gleaned from the super consultancy Mercer Australia by the Monash research team showed that the youngest cohort of women suffered from an average super gender gap of $1142 while the oldest group was $21,889 behind. When the 2011–12 data was checked, the gap had widened to $18,608 and $81,769 for the respective age groups.
“We found that the young cohorts experienced more gaps in their contributions as they are more likely to be establishing their family around this time, where the more stable 44–46 year olds did not have as
many gaps,” Moulang says. “At 24–26, generally around the time of one’s first professional job, graduate employment rates are high for women but their salaries are lower. This has a significant long-term impact on women’s superannuation balances from which they cannot recover.”
“Much of the recent response to gender inequalities in pension savings has been to encourage women to save more,” Moulang adds. “This is an inadequate response that will not bridge the gap revealed here. Our study provides clear evidence of the Australian labour market generating a statistically significant economic disadvantage for women over time.”