Australian Bureau of Statistics
4125.0 - Gender Indicators, Australia, Jan 2012
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2012
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In 2007, males aged 15-69 years were more likely to have superannuation coverage (81%) than were females aged 15-69 years (74%). The difference largely reflects greater workforce participation by males, especially in older age groups. However, the proportion of people aged 15-69 years with no superannuation coverage declined in the seven years since 2000, at a faster pace for females (from 38% to 26%) than for males (from 26% to 19%), in part reflecting women's rising labour force participation rate.
The mean superannuation balance for males with accounts in the accumulation phase was $88,000 in 2007, while for females it was $52,000.
Superannuation coverage by age
A person is regarded as having no superannuation coverage if they have no superannuation accounts in the accumulation phase and, they are not currently receiving a superannuation/annuity, and have not received a lump sum from superannuation within the last four years. (Endnote 1)
The compulsory superannuation guarantee, introduced in 1992, boosted superannuation coverage among males and females aged 25-64 years, which is the age group that is primarily in the accumulation stage of superannuation. In 2007, most males and females in this age group had superannuation coverage.
Of Australians aged 65-69 years, 64% of females and 43% of males had no superannuation coverage and these proportions increased to 87% of females and 69% of males in the 70 years and over age group.
In the 15-24 year age group, 42% of males and 44% of females had no superannuation coverage. Factors contributing to a high proportion of males and females with no coverage in this age group include their lower employment rate and their over representation in low paying casual and part-time employment jobs. Employers may not be required to make superannuation contributions for such low income employees. In addition, a very small proportion of 15-24 year old males and females choose to contribute to superannuation either by salary sacrificing pre-tax income or by investing after tax income. (Endnote 2)
Coverage has widened
Between 2000 and 2007, the superannuation coverage rates for men and women increased in each 10 year age group, and it increased more quickly for women in all age groups.
Some of the faster rate of increase in coverage for women will reflect comparatively stronger increases in the labour force participation of females. Also, the introduction of superannuation asset division following marriage breakdown in 2002, the government co-contribution in 2003, and superannuation contribution splitting among spouses in 2006, may have all have contributed to superannuation coverage rates rising faster between 2000 and 2007 for females under 70 years of age than for males. (Endnote 2)
MEAN AND MEDIAN SUPERANNUATION BALANCES
In 2007, the median superannuation balance for males aged 15 years and over with accounts in the accumulation phase was $31,000, compared to $18,000 for females. The median superannuation balances for males and females were lower than their respective mean balances ($88,000 for males and $52,000 for females).
The mean and median superannuation balances for both males and females aged 15 years and over with accounts in accumulation phase increased between 2000 and 2007. The mean superannuation balance for females almost doubled, from $27,000 in 2000 to $52,000 in 2007, while for males the mean balance rose 45% from $60,000 in 2000 to $88,000 in 2007.
Balances by age
Superannuation balances are correlated with age, reflecting the pattern of accumulation over a person's working life. The mean and median superannuation balances of females were lower compared to that of males in all age groups, and the difference widened with age. The mean superannuation balance for females aged 45-54 years was $73,000, which was 57% of the mean superannuation balance of males in this age group ($128,000). The median superannuation balance for females aged 45-54 years was $30,000, which was 45% of the median superannuation balance of males in the same age group ($67,000). Between 2000 and 2007, the mean and median superannuation balances of females in all age groups up to 64 years rose more than that for males.
Balances by relationship in household
The differences between the mean superannuation balances for males and females were larger for those living in a couple relationship than those living as lone persons. In 2007, for lone persons aged 35-44 years, the mean superannuation balance of females was 89% of the mean balance held by lone males of this age. However, for people of this age in a couple relationship, the mean superannuation balance of females was 60% of the mean balance for males. For people aged 45-54 years, the mean balance of the lone females was 83% of the mean for males, compared with 54% for partnered females. For people aged 55 years and over the mean balance of the lone females was 77% of the mean for males, compared with 61% for partnered females.
In the case of the separation of those in partnered relationships, the law provides for partners (married and de facto) to share the combined superannuation assets of the former couple. Accounting for this contingency would push the female/ male ratio of superannuation assets much closer to parity for those in partnered relationships.
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2009, Employment Arrangements, Retirement and Superannuation, Australia, 2007, (cat. no. 6361.0), ABS, Canberra, <www.abs.gov.au>.
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2009, Australian Social Trends, Mar 2009, (cat. no. 4102.0), ABS, Canberra, <www.abs.gov.au>.
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This page last updated 2 August 2012