KiwiSaver breakdown: Balances revealed for different ages, genders

A breakdown of KiwiSaver balances for different ages and genders has been revealed for the first time in new figures published by the Retirement Commission.

Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission had Melville Jessup Weaver (MJW) actuaries gather data on 2,944,050 KiwiSaver members with a total balance of $85.44 billion as of the end of 2021. That represents about 93 percent of the total KiwiSaver membership. 

MJW's report showed the average KiwiSaver balance is $29,022. There is a clear gender pay gap as the average balance for a female is $27,061 compared to $32,553 for a male.

KiwiSaver breakdown: Balances revealed for different ages, genders
Photo credit: MJW report.

"While not surprising, given KiwiSaver is a retirement savings scheme closely associated with the labour market, this report provides robust data to further highlight the gender savings gap, which is apparent across all age groups," the commission's director for policy Dr Suzy Morrissey said.

The widest gap between men and women is among those in their 40s and 50s. Women in their 40s have about $10,000 (or 30 percent) less in their account than men, while women in their 50s are down about $13,000 (or 32 percent). 

The report found the average KiwiSaver balance for the 61-65 year old age bracket (the superannuation age is 65) is $53,579 overall. For women, it is $48,457 and for men, it is $61,606. 

MindTheGap's co-founder Dellwyn Stuart said the data showed a "real need to urgently address the pay gap not just for women's day-to-day lives but to ensure they have enough to retire".

"These figures show that the implications of women being paid less than men does not just impact their daily lives but has very real consequences for their retirement."

Stuart said that as women are statistically likely to live longer than men, the issue is even more dire in terms of long-term impact. MindTheGap wants mandatory pay gap reporting.

"Evidence shows when businesses know and report their pay gaps, they are more likely to work towards closing them," Stuart said.  

"We absolutely agree we need to fix the KiwiSaver gap – and the best way to do that is by addressing the Pay Gap."

About 40 percent of members have a balance of less than $10,000, the new figures show. Of those, 19 percent are aged 17 and under, 24 percent are aged between 18 and 25 and 22 percent are aged between 26 and 35.

"However, 21 percent of those aged 51-65 also have less than $10,000 and they may not have saved as much as they would have liked for their retirement," the commission said.

MJW created hypothetical scenarios for Kiwis who began investing in the scheme when it started 14 years and who had made no withdrawals since. This used the median wage for each age cohort to determine the contribution amount and government incentives were included.

It found a woman who joined a conservative fund at the age of 20 could have about $46,878 in their account by now. But the average balance at the end of 2021 for a woman in the 31-35-year-old age group is $19,141. A man in a similar scenario would be projected to have $53,381 in their account, compared to the average balance of $22,738.

"What this has revealed is when comparing current balances to what would have been possible for a median wage earner to have accrued over the 14 years of KiwiSaver, we see that they are lower, on average, across all age groups,” said Dr Morrissey.

"Part of this can likely be linked to first home deposit withdrawals and saving suspensions, and people not participating in the scheme for the full 14 years that it has been available."