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Retirement savings and gender: An Australasian comparison


The issues associated with low levels of retirement savings for women are well established. This study quantifies the extent of the problem in Australia and New Zealand and investigates the primary causes of the issue. It subsequently canvases approaches adopted or proposed internationally to assess the likelihood that the issue may be ameliorated with an amended policy approach. We suggest that a combination of policy tools may be adopted in each country to help address the issue.

In New Zealand, a combination of carer credits or changes to the co-contribution model, plus introduction of superannuation splitting and lifetime contribution caps is likely to improve levels of retirement savings for women, along with lower income earners in general. In Australia the existing tools used to assist low income earners could be extended to be available to carers while they are unable to participate in the workforce. Adoption of these approaches would ensure that New Zealand, with a retirement savings gender gap of 25 per cent, which is significantly less than Australia’s gap of 77 per cent, can learn from Australian experience and introduce policies earlier to ensure that the problem does not become as large as in Australia.

Author profiles

Dr Helen Hodgson CTA
Helen joined Curtin Law School as an Associate Professor in 2014, following 10 years teaching in the Atax programme at UNSW. Helen has a particular interest in tax policy, and was a participant at the 2010 Tax Forum. Her current area of research is the tax-transfer system, but she also researches in superannuation, and the gender impacts of the tax-transfer system. In 2010, Helen was a co-author of the Women's Voices Report commissioned by the Equality Rights Alliance to examine factors influencing women's workforce participation, including superannuation, tax and transfer issues. Helen holds qualifications in accounting, business law and taxation, and is a Fellow of the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants. - Current at 08 July 2019
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Lisa Marriott
Lisa is an Associate Professor in Taxation at the School of Accounting and Commercial Law, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. - Current at 29 May 2019
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