Latest data on KiwiSaver reveals no improvement to the gender savings gap on balances

This year’s research delving into KiwiSaver demographics has shown no closing of the gender savings gap on average balances – remaining fixed at 25%.

Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission engaged Melville Jessup Weaver (MJW) to provide an update to the analysis undertaken last year and in 2021.

The MJW report contains data on more than three million members with total balances of $104.21 billion (as at December 2023). This represents approximately 98% of the total KiwiSaver member base.

The findings show the average KiwiSaver balance is $31,823. This is $4,444 higher than last year (an increase of 16.2%) and likely reflects the strong recovery financial market experienced over 2023.

There continues to be a notable gap between males ($36,605) and females ($29,291). The average balance for a male is 25% higher than the average balance for a female, a gap of $7,314.

The research has shown that at the end of 2023, 38% of KiwiSaver members had balances of less than $10,000.

Te Ara Ahunga Ora Policy Lead Dr Michelle Reyers says it’s disappointing to see no progress has been made to improve the gender gap on retirement savings.

“This research continues to highlight the importance of closing gender pay gaps and the impact this has for KiwiSaver balances and retirement. It’s good to see the gap hasn’t widened in the past year. In 2021 we saw the gender savings gap go from 20% to 25% in 2022,” she says.

“Many members continue to have lower KiwiSaver balances than we’d like to see, and that’s both men and women. We know that the cost-of-living pressures many are facing will be contributing to this. However, lower KiwiSaver balances have a significant impact, particularly on women who need to fund their retirement for longer.”

The release of the MJW report follows on from research released by Te Ara Ahunga Ora and AUT in April, which also highlighted the impact the gender pay gap was having on KiwiSaver contributions. Despite men and women both contributing to KiwiSaver at the same rate, on average at 3.7%, the gender pay gap means there are large differences between the average dollar amounts contributed by both employee and employer. 

Dr Reyers says, “All of the data Te Ara Ahunga Ora is collecting on KiwiSaver allows us to examine the individual characteristics of members in a way we’ve never been able to before. It exposes some clear imbalances which tell us that if we don’t make changes, we are on a pathway to continue seeing the inequalities we are already seeing in our retired population for decades to come. We use this analysis to help shape future policy decisions.”

Detail on balances

  • The widest gaps are still between men and women in their 40s and 50s
  • On average, women in their 40s have approximately $11,000 (or 32%) less KiwiSaver than men
  • On average, women in their 50s have approximately $17,000 (or 36%) less KiwiSaver than men
  • This likely reflects the combined impact of the gender pay gap, time out of paid work, and the higher percentage of women than men that work part-time.
  • Lower balances are mostly concentrated among those age 35 and younger who represent two thirds of all KiwiSaver members with balances less than $10,000
  • Three quarters of those aged 25 and under have less than $10,000
  • While those over the age of 35 generally have higher balances than younger cohorts, a quarter still have balances under $10,000.

The Retirement Commissioner Jane Wrightson will be releasing a paper in June on KiwiSaver outlining possible policy options for the Government to explore to improve the scheme.

Read the full report here and policy brief here



For more information contact:

Anika Forsman  | Director, Stakeholder & Communications 

Ph: +64 21 246 4302