Roy Morgan Research
April 18, 2023

Women are (slowly) closing the superannuation gap

Topic: Press Release
Finding No: 9203
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New research from Roy Morgan shows that over the last decade, women have been closing the ‘gender superannuation gap’ on men both for ownership levels and average balances.

In 2012 only 66.2% of females had superannuation, compared to males with 74.8%, a gap of 8.6% points. Currently the gap has reduced to 3.9% points, with females 70.9% and males 74.8%.

The average superannuation balance for females has grown faster than males since 2012. Over the last decade the average superannuation balance of females grew by 38% (to $154k), compared to males with an increase of 26% (to $216k).

Gender gap in superannuation balance and ownership has narrowed slowly since 2012

The average superannuation balance held by females in 2012 was $111k or only 64.7% of the male average of $172k. Over the last decade there has been increasing focus on this issue and the importance of closing the ‘gender superannuation gap’ and improving the retirement funding of females.

This focus has resulted in some progress although there is far more work to do with the average superannuation balance for females increasing from 64.7% of the male average to 71.2% currently. The gap in ownership levels has also reduced from 8.6% to 3.9% in favour of males.

These are the latest results from Roy Morgan’s Single Source survey which is based on in-depth personal interviews conducted with over 500,000 Australians over the last decade including over 300,000 with superannuation.

Average Superannuation Balance and Ownership Level - Females vs Males

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), Australians 14+, 12 months to December 2012, n = 52,178 and 12 months to December 2022, n = 65,928. Base: Australians 14+ with superannuation. 12 months to December 2012, n=35,235 and 12 months to December 2022, n=33,827.

Lower female income impacts accumulation of superannuation at all ages

There are obviously a number of factors impacting on the total superannuation for females being lower than males. Apart from the potential for the loss in superannuation contributions with interrupted employment, the most likely cause is the fact that females with superannuation and who are employed, have much lower average incomes than working males.

The following chart shows that females with superannuation who currently work have an average income of $72.8k compared to males with $95.3k. This means that the average income of females is equal to only 76.3% of the male average – although this is up from a figure of 74.6% in 2018.

This figure is only slightly higher than the overall gender gap in the average superannuation seen earlier which showed that on average females currently have only 71.2% ($154,000) of the male average amount of superannuation of $216,000.

Females across all age groups shown here who currently work, have much lower average incomes than males – and the average wage of females as a percentage of males drops for every age group. Females aged 18-24 on average earn 85.8% of the wage of males of the same age – the closest income gap for any of the age groups. This figure drops to only 70.6% for females aged 65+.

It is most likely that the lower average income of females with superannuation is due to the fact that nearly half (45.3%) of employed females work part-time, compared to only 23.5% of males according to the latest Roy Morgan employment figures for March 2023 – Australian full-time employment in March hit a record high of 9 million as unemployment fell 0.7% to 9.4%.

Average Income of Workers1 with Superannuation - Males vs Females

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), Australians 14+, 12 months to December 2022, n= 65,928.
Base: Australians 14+ with superannuation and working1. Males, n=10,465. Females, n=10,855. 1. Full and part time.

Michele Levine, Chief Executive Officer, Roy Morgan says: 

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“The gender gap in superannuation has increasingly come into focus in recent years as women’s workforce participation has increased but the disparity in average superannuation between men and women has persisted with only marginal improvements over the last decade.

“Women in Australia continue to retire with far less superannuation than their male counterparts even though the longer life expectancy at birth for women in Australia is more than four years higher than for men (85.4 vs. 81.3)[1].

“Roy Morgan’s latest research shows the average man has $216,000 in their superannuation account compared to $154,000 for the average woman – only 71.2% of the male average.

“This represents an increase of 6.5% points over the last decade when the average superannuation for a woman was only 64.7% of that for the average man. At this rate of increase, it will take another 50 or so years before the gender gap in average superannuation balances is finally eliminated.

“There have been significant gains in employment over the last decade with women’s workforce participation (57.9% in December 2012 to 65.0% in March 2023 – up 7.1% points) increasing at a faster than men’s (72.0% to 73.2% – up 1.2% points) however women are still far more likely to work in part-time jobs (45.3%) than men (23.5%).

“Clearly part-time work is associated with a lower annual income than full-time work and this continues to contribute to the ongoing gender superannuation gap. The latest figures on income show that average female incomes are at only around 76% of the male average, which in turn leads to lower superannuation contributions and balances compared to males.

“In addition to lower average incomes, females are more likely to have interrupted employment. However, despite these negative factors operating against them, women have made gains in closing the superannuation gap to men – although progress is slow and additional policy actions should be seriously considered to close the gender superannuation gap.

Women in Super, a leading not-for-profit organisation is a powerful advocate for a super system without gender-based inequality and suggests several policy reforms that should be considered to work towards the elimination of the gender superannuation gap including:

  • “Government provision of an additional $1,000 for women and other low income earners into their superannuation to boost their balance and help them bridge the gap;
  • “Removing the $450 monthly pay threshold which sees hundreds of thousands of women missing out on super contributions each year;
  • “Measuring and publishing the impact that any future super changes would have on women.

“These, and other, potential reforms should be given serious consideration as a more gender equal superannuation system will ultimately benefit all Australians. Roy Morgan recognises that a more holistic understanding of an individual’s net wealth goes beyond superannuation and includes other investments, home ownership, debt levels, personal and household incomes, bank accounts, financial attitudes and other factors that have the potential to have a major impact on retirement funding.

“To understand more about superannuation and other banking and financial factors which impact on the wealth profile of Australians, simply ask Roy Morgan.”

[1] Australian Life expectancy at birth was 81.3 years for males and 85.4 years for females in 2019-21: ABS: Life tables release (ABS: November 8, 2022)

For comments or more information about Roy Morgan’s superannuation data please contact:

Roy Morgan Enquiries
Office: +61 (3) 9224 5309

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2
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