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The Forum > Article Comments > Superannuation not so super for women alone > Comments

Superannuation not so super for women alone : Comments

By Malcolm King, published 25/1/2012

Women suffer a superannuation deficit compared to men, yet live 4 years longer.

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So many of these statistics overlook the fact that during the divorce, she often gets most of the assets.

And men work longer hours than women and earn their superannuation. The concept that women are being oppressed is feminist propaganda only, as women in Australia are perhaps the most pampered individuals on the planet, compared to what they do.
Posted by vanna, Wednesday, 25 January 2012 1:04:18 PM
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"Australian taxpayers contribute $27 billion a year in superannuation tax concessions". I wouldn't mind getting my share for my super fund. It has been going for 5 years, hasn't made any money, yet every year it pays thousands of dollars in tax. I suspect there are many others in the same position as me. Most Super accounts have either gone nowhere or lost money the last few years yet continue to pay tax. Your statement is just wrong!

There is a flaw in the Superannuation system but you haven't grasped it. The present system taxes contribution and profits but payouts are generally tax free. If the system worked the other way - no tax on contributions and profits but distributions classed as taxable income, it would mean low income people would pay little or no tax and high income people would have a disincentive to put too much into super.

Superannuation is just a tax effective savings scheme. The problem for many women is that they never earned enough to save in the first place. This should be rectified through Social Security rather than messing with Super.
Posted by Wattle, Wednesday, 25 January 2012 1:33:46 PM
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I don't have the figures to back up my suspicions but the article did keep referencing "single, divorced or bereaved women"

It would be interesting to see a deeper breakdown of figures of overall wealth for the relevant grouping's. In a lot of cases divorced women will get at least half of the combined wealth (including superannuation) of the family, more than that if there are dependant kid's in her care (although that's likely to be well separated from retirement age) and sometimes impacted by potential for future earnings.

I'd assume that in most cases bereaved women would have ownership/control of most of the previously joint assets (especially so if a long term partner). Again no figures to back it up but I'm assuming that in most cases wills leave the majority of assets to a spouse first and then to children - some info on NSW law where there is no will at http://www.legalanswers.sl.nsw.gov.au/guides/wills_estates/inheritance.cfm

Still thinking about the impacts on long term single women, I'd expect that the dynamics limiting the amount of superannuation they have accrued compared to men would be different than the average. How does the superannuation average for long term single women compare to the same figure for those who've had a long term spouse?

I'm left with the impression of cherry picking to create an impression that may not reflect reality, work with some averages and extrapolate in way's that ignore inconvenient external factors.

I could be wrong but there do seem to be some big holes in the argument being made. Be interesting to see if anyone has access to a more suitable set of figures.

R0bert
Posted by R0bert, Wednesday, 25 January 2012 1:54:25 PM
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There is much wrong with this article, including the points other posters have made a woman who has been single all her life will have the same earnings opportunities as a man; one who is divorced or widowed is likely to have a share of his assets, even if not in the form of superannuation.

But ... there is an element of truth behind it, in particular in that our retirement income system is adequate for a person who has worked full time for most of their adult life, but most individuals (especially, but not only, women) are not in this situation. The politics of self-supporting vs pension-reliant retirees is likely to get ugly in coming years as baby boomers retire
Posted by Rhian, Wednesday, 25 January 2012 2:39:06 PM
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Robert,
In general terms, if a woman gets married and stays married, she will be twice as wealthy on retirement age as an unmarried or divorced woman.

As well, the majority of women do not work until retirement age (65+), but retire much earlier.

The earnings of men are keeping them alive.

It is not women being oppressed by men, it is a system of men keeping many women alive, most of whom do not earn enough to ever pay their way.
Posted by vanna, Wednesday, 25 January 2012 3:39:31 PM
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Seems incontrovertible to me. Women have much less super than me, for a variety of reasons. The central reason is that if they have kids, they either have trouble re-entering the workforce or else enter at a lower position at which they exited ergo lower super.

There is a multitude of factors which hit both sexes and affect super balances but women's lower earnings across the lifespan is key. It's simply the case that at critical decision points in a womans life, such as getting married, having kids, etc, a woman may have considerably to lose re money in the bank for old age.
Posted by Cheryl, Wednesday, 25 January 2012 3:44:26 PM
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