AIST wants menopause impacts measured as estimated women’s retirement funds ‘below par’

THE Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) has lifted its estimate of the cost of menopause, and how it impacts women’s retirement incomes, to more than $112.2 billion workforce-wide.

AIST is urging the Federal Government to accurately measure and urgenly report on the costs to women of menopause on their careers and superannuation totals by retirement age.

AIST CEO Eva Scheerlinck said the peak superannuation trustee body’s previous estimate – of between $17 billion and $35 billion – had been found to be too conservative. Now AIST had adjusted its assumptions on the basis of new data and broader analysis of the impact on women.

Ms Scheerlinck said with the average age of menopause being 51 and many women experiencing symptoms for five to 10 years, the impact of this life change affecting all women needed to be quantified so that appropriate policy and public health interventions could be developed.  

In a pre-Budget submission, AIST recommended the Federal Government provide funding to the Office for Women to measure and report on the extent to which menopausal symptoms impact women’s employment and retirement decisions, super and retirement incomes.

“AIST bases its estimates on publicly available data sources but recommends that the government undertake its own comprehensive analysis of the heath and economic impacts of menopause on women’s workplace participation and retirement decisions,” Ms Scheerlinck said.

“This is a great time for this work to be done because women retire with 40 percent less superannuation than men and they live longer. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, the average retirement age is 52.1 for women and 59.5 for men.

A woman retiring at the average age for a man would accrue an additional 7.4 years of income and superannuation which, based on the average income for women aged 45-54 amounted to lost salary and wages and foregone superannuation of more than $577,512.

According to ABS data, 694,143 women were in the workforce in November 2022 and, by the government’s own estimates, 28 percent of menopausal women will have symptoms severe enough to impact their participation in the workforce.

This translates to a collective economic loss of $15.2 billion per year and more than $112.2 billion in foregone earnings and super over 7.4 years.



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