Female retirement age down but super gap persists

The average Australian woman is now retiring at 64.3 years, compared to 65.2 years for men, but a 28% gap persists in their superannuation. 

According to data from KPMG, the average Australian woman was retiring at 64.3 years in 2020/21, down from 64.4 years in 2018/19, compared to 65.2 years for men.  

The lowest age was 64 years by women living in Greater Sydney while the highest was 64.8 years for those living in Greater Adelaide. This was driven by the high cost of living in Sydney which prompted people to move to lower-cost regional areas as they got older. 

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COVID-19 had also played a role as many women worked in industries such as retail and hospitality which had been adversely hit by the pandemic. 

The figures were a significant increase over 20 years, however, when the average female retirement age was 61.7 years. 

But the firm said there were steps that could be taken to bring the ages in line and prevent women from being disadvantaged by taking leave to look after children. 

The gender super gap could be between 22% to 35% while the median super balance for women aged 60 to 64 was $146,900 for women compared to $204,100 for men, a gap of 28%. 

Terry Rawnsley, KPMG planning and infrastructure economics director, said: “Ongoing business support and policy changes to further advance gender equity will help reduce the retirement gap between men and women. 

“This includes provision of more affordable childcare/early childhood education, more generous paid paternity leave for both men and women and reducing the distinction between primary and secondary carer between parents to name a few. These actions will help bring the retirement age of women in line with men.” 

In its report ‘The Gender Superannuation Gap’ KPMG proposed four options to help close the gap. These were: time-limited rebate of super contribution tax; create a Primary Carer Supplementary Concessional Cap; remove the five-year limit on utilisation of concessional caps for years spent as a primary carer or provide top-up superannuation contributions for primary carers (not on a co-contribution basis).  

Changes had already been made through the Treasury Laws Amendment (More Flexible Superannuation) Act 2021 that meant individuals up to the age of 67 (previously 65) could bring forward some of their non‑concessional contributions cap. 

This was welcomed but the report said it failed to address an individual’s ability during their peak earning years to catch up on unused concessional capacity that had arisen due to taking time out of the workforce earlier on. 

It followed recent calls from Aware Super  and Industry Super Australia  who said the super gap had grown. 

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