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Women retirees are disadvantaged compared to men says researcher

Women retirees are disadvantaged compared to men
CDU Social Gerontologist and Psychologist Dr ILonka Guse says the retirement income system is negatively impacting the NT’s female Baby Boomers.

Territorian women who have raised children and been homemakers are particularly disadvantaged by Australia’s retirement income system says a researcher at Charles Darwin University (CDU).

Gender pay inequity is a persistent issue in Australia and continues to disadvantage women.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Northern Territory has Australia’s biggest increase in the proportion of retirees, from 14 per cent to 20 per cent.

CDU Social Gerontologist and Psychologist Dr ILonka Guse said she believes the retirement income system is negatively impacting the NT’s female Baby Boomers.

“There are serious flaws in Australia’s retirement income system which affect women most of all,” Dr Guse said.

“For example, women who become mothers and take time off the paid labour market to look after children or family are facing one to two years without superannuation contributions.”

That view is backed up by research conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission. It uncovers how gender inequity has affected women as they approach retirement, and in retirement.

The Australian Human Rights Commission report found that the current average superannuation payout for women is a third of the payout for men: $37,000 compared with $110, 000.

The research also concluded Australia's retirement system doesn't recognise and reward the unpaid caring work that women do, leaving them vulnerable to poverty in old age.

“The ‘silver tsunami’ has arrived. The pension eligibility age will increase from 65 to 67 by 2023,” Dr Guse said.

“By comparison, accessing super is being increased from 55 to 60 by 2024. But the current average retirement age of all retirees is 55.4 years. This is one more factor that will contribute to disadvantaging women in retirement.”

Other statistics that outline the gender gap:

  • 36 per cent of retired women relied on their partner’s income to meet their living costs at retirement compared to 7 per cent of retired men.
  • Women who experience lower wages or salaries and increased casualisation of their jobs (often in retail or hospitality) have a lower superannuation contribution
  • Retirees with no personal income remained around 30 per cent for women and 7 per cent for men
  • Currently, the average superannuation payout for women is a third of the payout for men: $37,000 compared with $110,000
  • Women have significantly less money saved for their retirement – half of all women aged 45 to 59 have $8,000 or less in their superannuation funds, compared to $31,000 for men.

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