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6360.0 - Superannuation: Coverage and Financial Characteristics, Australia, Jun 2000  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/09/2001   
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ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION

This publication presents results from the superannuation component of the Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation (SEAS). The SEAS was a household survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) throughout Australia, with information collected from individuals by personal interview from April to June 2000. Superannuation funds and administrators provided some supplementary information during the period May to October 2000.

In relation to superannuation, SEAS measured:

  • the levels of superannuation coverage among different groups such as the employed, older persons, men and women;
  • the amounts being contributed to people's superannuation and the amount of superannuation accrued; and
  • the numbers of people who had received a lump sum payment or were receiving income from superannuation or an annuity.

This publication contains statistical tables highlighting the key superannuation results, as well as explanatory material describing the survey design and methodology, the quality and interpretation of survey results, and products and services available.

The survey also produced a wide range of information about employment arrangements. These details and some information about superannuation coverage were released in Employment Arrangements and Superannuation, Australia (cat. no. 6361.0) in March 2001.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


ABBREVIATIONS

ABS Australian Bureau of Statistics
APRA Australian Prudential Regulation Authority
RSE Relative standard error
SE Standard error
SEAS Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation


SUMMARY OF FINDINGS


INTRODUCTION

Currently government pensions are the main source of income for most older Australians. This may become more difficult to sustain if the proportion of Australians who are retired continues to increase. The ability of Australians to provide financially for their own retirement, particularly through superannuation, has emerged as a prominent issue in government policy in recent years.

The following diagram shows the framework used to present information on superannuation in this publication. People aged 15 to 69 years were divided into two broad groups:
  • the not retired or the 'pre-retired' population, i.e. those who were employed or who intended to become employed in the future; and
  • the retired population, i.e. those who were no longer employed and did not intend to become employed in the future.

People who had never been employed and did not intend to become employed represented only 1% of the total survey population. Some of these people have superannuation, but information for this group is not presented separately in the publication.

Flowchart - Framework used to present information on superannuation



THE PRE-RETIRED POPULATION

Overview

Three-quarters of the pre-retired population aged 15 to 69 years had some superannuation.

Of those with superannuation:
  • 54% currently had employer or business contributions only;
  • 23% currently had both employer or business contributions and personal or spouse contributions;
  • 5% currently had personal or spouse contributions only; and
  • 18% had superannuation to which no contributions were currently being made.

One-quarter of the pre-retired population had no superannuation. The proportion with no superannuation was larger for some groups, including:
  • 48% of people aged 15 to 24 years;
  • 55% of unemployed people; and
  • 70% of those not in the labour force (but not retired).

The total superannuation balances identified in this publication represent only about 50% of the total superannuation assets 1 of Australian households. However, the values given in this publication are expected to indicate the relative superannuation entitlements of people with different characteristics. See Appendix 1 for more information about the coverage of superannuation assets in SEAS.

Sex

Approximately 78% of males in the pre-retired population had some superannuation, compared with 71% of females. For those with some superannuation, the median total amount was $13,400 for males, more than double the amount for females ($6,400). These differences reflect the different employment experiences of males and females. For example, in May 2000, 44% of female jobholders were employed part time, compared with 13% of male jobholders 2 , and women are also more likely to experience breaks in employment to care for children.

Age

In the pre-retired age groups with a relatively high rate of labour force participation (25 to 54 year olds), the proportions who had superannuation were similar, ranging from 82% to 85%. The median total superannuation balance for those with some superannuation ranged from $1,000 for those aged 15 to 24 years to $30,000 for those aged 55 to 69 years. The total superannuation balance for a person is the sum of reported amounts for a person's three main superannuation accounts. Results also show the extent to which median total superannuation balances increased with age.

PRE-RETIRED POPULATION, Median Superannuation Balance - Graph



Labour force status

Less than half (45%) of unemployed persons had some superannuation, compared with 87% of employed persons. The median total superannuation balance for unemployed persons with superannuation was $2,000, compared to $10,400 for employed persons with superannuation.

Most persons employed full time (92%) had superannuation compared with 72% of persons employed part time. For those with some superannuation, the median total superannuation balance for persons employed full time was $13,000, compared with $4,300 for persons employed part time.

Whether spouse has superannuation

For many people, access to private income in their retirement is affected by the superannuation of their spouses as well as by their own superannuation.

Over half (54%) of the pre-retired population who had superannuation had a spouse who also had superannuation. This proportion was largest among those aged 35 to 44 years (65%).

Of those who had no superannuation, the proportion who had a spouse with superannuation ranged from 36% to 39% in age groups between 25 to 54 years. The proportion who had a spouse who also had no superannuation increased with age from 17% among those aged 25 to 34 years, to 24% among those aged 35 to 44 years and 27% among those aged 45 to 54 years.

Superannuation, like income, is often shared, but while income may be shared between other members of a household or a family, superannuation is more likely to be shared by spouses after their children have left home. Similarly, superannuation of lone parents is unlikely to be shared with their children. In presenting superannuation information it is therefore useful to separate the superannuation entitlements of parents from those of their children and other members of the family or household.

In this publication, information about superannuation entitlements is therefore presented for either persons or 'income units', rather than for 'households' or 'families' (information for these units is also available on request). An income unit is a person or a group of related persons within a household whose command over income is assumed to be shared. People who are members of the same family or household may belong to different 'income units': for example, in a family of two parents with a child aged 25 years who is working full time, the parents will constitute one income unit and the child will constitute a separate income unit.

Among couple income units where both spouses had superannuation, the median total superannuation balance was $36,000, compared with $10,000 for couple income units where one spouse had superannuation. Among other income units (comprising lone person and one parent income units) the median total superannuation balance was $4,500.

SELECTED INCOME UNITS, Median Total Superannuation Balance - Graph



JOBHOLDERS

Employment type

Most jobholders (87%) had some superannuation and the proportion with superannuation varied according to employment type. Among jobholders, almost all employees with leave entitlements had superannuation (98% of those not working on a fixed-term contract, and 97% of those on a fixed-term contract). Those not working on a fixed-term contract had a larger median total superannuation balance ($12,900) than those working on a fixed-term contract ($5,600).

Fewer self-identified casuals had superannuation coverage (72%). The median total superannuation balance for self-identified casuals was $2,300. Many self-identified casuals are young jobholders working relatively few hours. Under the Superannuation Guarantee, employers are not obliged to contribute to superannuation for either employees earning below $450 per month or those under 18 years of age who are working less than 30 hours a week. Some 42% of jobholders aged 15 to 24 years were self-identified casuals and 80% of these worked less than 30 hours a week. Of self-identified casuals, 77% of those aged 15 to 19 years and 35% of those aged 20 to 24 years were still at school or undertaking other full-time study.

Some 87% of owner managers of incorporated enterprises had superannuation and this group had the largest median total superannuation balance of all employment types ($25,000). While a much lower proportion (63%) of owner managers of unincorporated enterprises had superannuation, their median total superannuation balance was the second largest among employment types ($11,200).

Age

The proportion of jobholders with superannuation was similar in each of the age groups from 25 to 54 years (ranging from 90% to 92%). In comparison, the proportion of jobholders aged 15 to 24 years with superannuation was smaller (74%). Again, many of these younger jobholders may be in categories that are exempt from the Superannuation Guarantee because they are aged under 18 years and work less than 30 hours a week, or because they earn less than $450 a month.

The proportion of jobholders aged 55 to 69 years with superannuation was 80%, lower than the proportion for people in each of the age groups from 25 to 54 years.

Industry

The proportion of jobholders with superannuation was greatest in the following industries:
  • Electricity, Gas and Water Supply (100%);
  • Government Administration and Defence (98%); and
  • Mining (97%).

This reflects the types of employment in these industries. There are relatively small proportions of self-identified casuals or owner managers of unincorporated enterprises in these industries. In industries where there were larger proportions of these employment types, the proportion of jobholders with superannuation was smaller. For example, a relatively large proportion of jobholders in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing were owner managers of unincorporated enterprises and this industry had the smallest proportion of jobholders with superannuation (71%). Similarly, 73% of jobholders in Retail Trade had superannuation, reflecting the large proportion of self-identified casuals in this industry 3 .

Personal contributions

More male jobholders (30%) were making personal contributions to superannuation than female jobholders (21%).

The proportion of jobholders making personal contributions generally increased with age. The proportion of jobholders aged 45 to 54 years who were making personal contributions was 39%, almost double the proportion of 25 to 34 year olds (21%).

JOBHOLDERS, Proportion making Personal Contributions - Graph



A larger proportion of public sector jobholders were making personal contributions (57%) than private sector jobholders (20%). (Personal contributions are compulsory in some public sector superannuation schemes.)

Reasons not making personal contributions

The most common reasons given for not making personal contributions were 'Cost/Cannot afford to' (37%), followed by 'Have not bothered/Never thought about it/Not interested' (17%).

Among 15 to 24 year olds 'Cost/Cannot afford to' was the most common reason (37%), followed by 'Have not bothered etc.' (25%). Among 55 to 69 year olds 'Cost/Cannot afford to' was cited most frequently (31%), followed by 'Has other investments' (12%) and 'Have not bothered etc.' (11%).


RETIRED

The main focus of the SEAS was the pre-retired population. People aged 70 years and over were not included in the survey, but information was collected for retired people aged less than 70 years.

Of those retired people aged less than 70 years:
  • 62% had never received a lump sum payment from superannuation and were not receiving income from superannuation;
  • 25% had received only a lump sum payment from superannuation;
  • 8% had received a lump sum payment from superannuation and were also receiving income from superannuation; and
  • 5% were receiving income but had not received a lump sum payment from superannuation.

Sex

Some 55% of retired males aged less than 70 years had received a lump sum payment from superannuation or were receiving income from superannuation, compared with 28% of retired females.

Total cash income

Over half (56%) of retired people aged less than 70 years had a total cash income of less than $10,000 a year. However, 82% of those who were receiving income from superannuation received $10,000 or more a year.

Lump sum from superannuation

Over half (55%) of those who had received a lump sum in the previous 12 months reported receiving a lump sum of less than $20,000. Those who had received a lump sum in the previous 12 months reported the main use of that lump sum as follows:
  • 42% bought or paid off a home, made home improvements, paid off a car or settled other outstanding debts;
  • 23% rolled the lump sum over or invested it in an approved deposit fund, annuity (either deferred or immediate) or other superannuation scheme; and
  • 28% invested the lump sum elsewhere, including in personal savings.

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Footnotes
1 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001, Australian National Accounts: Financial Accounts, March Quarter 2001(Cat. no. 5232.0), ABS, Canberra
2 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2000, Labour Force, Australia, May 2000 (Cat. no. 6203.0), ABS, Canberra
3 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001, Employment Arrangements and Superannuation, Australia, April to June 2000, (Cat. no. 6361.0), ABS Canberra


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