The Case for Gender-Sensitive Superannuation Plan Design

13 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2009

See all articles by Anup K. Basu

Anup K. Basu

Queensland University of Technology; Financial Research Network (FIRN)

Michael E. Drew

Griffith University

Date Written: 2008-11


A key feature of superannuation plan design is the assumption that members have long and continuous periods of employment over which contributions are made. This heroic design feature has led to debate on the adequacy of superannuation plans for those with interrupted employment, particularly the adverse impacts this has on the retirement income prospects of women. This paper employs non-parametric stochastic simulation to investigate two possible solutions to gender inequality in superannuation, higher contribution rates and more aggressive asset allocation. Our results suggest that while both these strategies in isolation are effective in reducing the current gender disparity in superannuation outcomes, they demand significant changes to current arrangements when employed individually to address the problem. A combined approach is found to be more powerful in ensuring a more equitable superannuation outcome for women, as it nullifies the relative disadvantage of interrupted employment with only modest changes to contribution rates and asset allocation.

Suggested Citation

Basu, Anup K. and Drew, Michael E., The Case for Gender-Sensitive Superannuation Plan Design (2008-11). Australian Economic Review, Vol. 42, Issue 2, pp. 177-189, June 2009, Available at SSRN: or

Anup K. Basu (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology ( email )

2 George Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4000

Financial Research Network (FIRN)

C/- University of Queensland Business School
St Lucia, 4071 Brisbane


Michael E. Drew

Griffith University ( email )

Brisbane, Queensland 4111

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