Your shopping cart is empty

Promoting and Protecting the Economic Outcomes of Older Partnered Women and Widows: Challenges for Australia’s Retirement Income System


Historically, retirement income policy has responded to women’s relatively limited ability to secure an independent retirement income through either a state age pension or a surviving spouse benefit, payable to widows upon death of their partner. The shift towards accumulation superannuation schemes in countries such as Australia has made surviving spouse pensions less relevant and left many women financially dependent on their partner in retirement. The economic risks faced by many women within retired couple households as a result of this shift have been neglected by policy makers, at least in part because of the pervasive assumption that intra-household resource allocations are beyond the purview of government. This paper aims to address the resulting policy gap by examining two broad approaches to protect economic outcomes for partnered older women in Australia’s superannuation-based retirement income system. One approach features measures aimed at enhancing women’s capacity to influence decision-making on household superannuation wealth; and the other focuses on regulatory settings that can influence who owns superannuation wealth within the household. We conclude 214 (2020) 35 AUSTRALIAN TAX FORUM by identifying specific opportunities to address imbalances in the entitlements of older Australian women to the superannuation assets held in their households.

Author profiles

Monica Costa
Monica is a Senior Research Fellow, School of Economics, Finance and Property, Curtin University.
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
Click here to expand/collapse more articles by Helen HODGSON.
Siobhan Austen
Siobhan is a Associate Professor, School of Economics and Finance, Curtin University.
Current at 1 December 2015
Click here to expand/collapse more articles by Siobhan Austen.
Rhonda Sharp
Rhonda is a Professor, Adjunct Hawke Research Institute, University of South Australia.
Current 1 December 2015>/i>
Click here to expand/collapse more articles by Rhonda Sharp.


Copyright Statement