As a leading professional services firm, KPMG Australia (KPMG) is committed to meeting the requirements of all our stakeholders – not only the organisations we audit and advise, but also employees, governments, regulators and the wider community.

We strive to contribute to the debate that is shaping the Australian economy and welcome the opportunity to provide options to address Australia’s gendered superannuation gap.

Supporting gender equity in retirement

This paper follows KPMG’s series of reports on gender inequality since 2018.

KPMG released Towards a more equal sharing of work and Enhancing work-life balance: a better system of Paid Parental Leave earlier this year, which proposed ‘catch-up’ superannuation concessions for carers and a significant restructure of the Paid Parental Leave scheme. This paper looks at several options available to policy makers to help support gender equity in retirement.

A combination of greater levels of part-time work, employment in lower-paid industries, lower hourly rates of pay for women compared to men and less time in the paid workforce during their working years results in pronounced gender pay, income and superannuation gaps.

While there are a range of reasons that contribute to unequal superannuation retirement balances between men and women, predominately the leading factor is time out of the workforce to be the primary carer of young children.

In the years approaching retirement age, the gender superannuation gap can be anywhere between 22 percent and 35 percent. The median superannuation balance for men aged 60-64 years is $204,107 whereas for women in the same age group it is $146,900, a gap of 28 percent. For the pre-retirement years of 55-59, the gender gap is 33 percent and in the peak earning years of 45-49 the gender gap is 35 percent.

Individuals with low superannuation balances are more likely to rely on the age pension in retirement and as at December 2020, 55 percent of those collecting the full pension were women. Financial insecurity in retirement contributes to poverty and housing insecurity of older women in Australia.

KPMG welcomes the reform through the Treasury Laws Amendment (More Flexible Superannuation) Act 2021, that allows individuals up to the age of 67 (previously 65) to bring forward some of their non-concessional contributions cap. This will assist older women to top up their balances where they have the necessary financial resources. While this is a welcome move, it does not address an individual’s ability during their peak earning years to catch up on unused concessional capacity that has arisen from time out of the workforce due to childcaring over their earlier working life.

Helping primary carers catch up on their superannuation balances

Four options to address the superannuation gap:


Time-limited rebate of superannuation contributions tax (SCT).


Create a Primary Carer Supplementary Concessional Cap


Remove the five-year limit on utilisation of concessional caps for years spent as a primary carer


Provide top-up superannuation contributions for primary carers (not on a co-contribution basis).

We look forward to continuing to contribute to the gender equity debate in Australia given it is a critical lever to drive productivity and economic growth and look forward to working with all levels of governments on implementing measures that drive gender equity reform.

Download the full report

The gender superannuation gap

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Further reading

Read more of KPMG Australia's insights and thought leadership on diversity and gender equity.