Retiring Into Poverty

Australian women aged over 50 are at greater risk of financial and housing insecurity than older men. This has been linked to a number of compounding and systemic factors. Women in this older age group today did not benefit from compulsory superannuation at the beginning of their working lives, they were more likely to have been paid at a lower rate than their male counterparts and were likely to have taken time out of the paid workforce to have children and fulfil caring roles.


In 1950 the basic wage for females was set at 75% of the basic wage for males. Additionally, a significant number of women in the cohort currently aged over 70 were required to resign their paid employment upon marriage.1 Many women now aged over 60 were also either required or expected to leave paid work when they became pregnant.

Housing costs 

People who do not own a home and who are living on a low income, such as a Centrelink benefit, are not able to afford to rent privately or purchase a home. The National Rental Affordability Index2 shows a severely unaffordable private rental market for single aged pensioners and Newstart recipients. The decimation of social housing portfolios across all Australian States and Territories and the increasing cost of renting and home purchase has resulted in the demand for affordable housing far exceeding current supply.

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Source: Mercy Foundation