Super gender gap exacerbated with early release

The gender gap in superannuation doubles for women under 34 if they have used the early release of superannuation scheme to combat financial hardship brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data.

Data released by the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) and Women in Super (WIS) found that women who accessed their super through the scheme were even further “behind of the eight ball when it comes to retirement savings”.

AIST head of advocacy, Melissa Birks, said: “In normal times, the gender super gap starts to become more evident when many women take a career break to care for their first child in their 30s. Some of these women will now be saving for their retirement pretty much from scratch when they return to work”.

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The joint analysis found that female applicants aged 25 to 34 had on average a starting balance before the pandemic of $19,906 – 21% less than the average male balance of $25,200. After withdrawing their super, this gap widened to 46%.

Source: AIST and WIS

Women aged 25 to 34 withdrew on average 35% of their balance, compared to 29% for men in the same age bracket. In all age brackets, women withdrew a greater proportion of their account balance when compared to men.

AIST and WIS noted that it was estimated that 15% of all applicants had had their super fully wiped out.

The two groups called on the Government to commit to a return to pre-COVID-19 super preservation rules from 1 January, 2021 and recommended:

  • Maintaining the legislated timetable for the superannuation guarantee (SG) to increase to 12%;
  • Payment of SG on government paid parental leave; and
  • Removal of the $450 monthly threshold before SG was payable.

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