Like many before it, this report demonstrates the economic disadvantage faced by women throughout their working lives is greatly magnified in their retirement years.
As a result, many women across New South Wales are facing frightening futures they are powerless to change.
Disadvantage comes in many forms, and is deeply entrenched, creating a systemic problem that requires a broad suite of solutions to effect change – both for the older women who are already living in dire economic straits, and the future generations of women who are still deep in their working lives.
More than 7,600 older people responded to the 2017 COTA NSW housing survey, and the data we have gathered shines a glaring light on a complex mix of factors that combine and contribute to women’s economic security over a lifetime. Crucially, it turns a gender lens on to the relationship between paid work, caring responsibilities, post retirement income and housing and how those factors determine a woman’s ability to either survive or thrive in later life.
What we know is that women live on less income than men for their entire lives. This imbalance is apparent at all stages of womens’ lives, but becomes more dramatic in post-retirement age due to many factors, including the unpredictable events – caring responsibilities, relationship breakdowns and serious illness or incapacity - that can happen at any time.
In our survey, as well as answering questions, many respondents shared stories that reveal just how quickly and easily a woman’s economic security can be derailed by those unpredictable events. The report provides further support to previous research demonstrating that the post retirement income system is failing women and leaving them significantly disadvantaged.
Change is needed on a number of fronts across workplace practices and tax, post retirement income and housing policy in order for women to get a fairer deal.
COTA NSW lends it voice to the many others who urge the adoption of ideas that were put forward during the 2016 Senate Inquiry into women’s economic security, including:
• implementing the increase in Superannuation Contribution Guarantee rate to 12%,
• establishing an integrated retirement income policy framework
• introducing measures to help close the gap between the superannuation balances of men and women