Women's economic security in retirement

Women face greater risk of economic insecurity in retirement than men. To be economically secure in retirement means to be financially secure through a steady income and/or other resources to support a decent standard of living in the foreseeable future.

While the superannuation gap is narrowing, women in Australia still retire with less superannuation savings than men. This is because, although compulsory superannuation has provided women with greater access to superannuation, the current framework does not account for women’s experiences in the workplace. Women have lower lifetime earnings, and are more likely to work part-time or in more precarious forms of employment and to take time out of the workforce for unpaid caring responsibilities. These factors affect women’s ability to accrue retirement savings. As a consequence, women in retirement are more likely to live in poverty than men.

Key findings

  • The experiences of women and men in paid and unpaid work impact on their economic security in retirement.
  • Working lives of women are often different to working lives of men. Women are more likely to take primary responsibility for unpaid care work and to work part-time and in lower paid roles.
  • Fragmented work histories and lower paid work mean women are likely to accumulate significantly less in superannuation savings than men.
  • The keys to closing the superannuation gap are: addressing especially the imbalance in unpaid care and domestic work for women and the imbalance in paid work between men and women, and building financial literacy.