An OECD report, Pensions at a Glance 2015, compared Australia to 33 other countries. The report found that more than one-third of Australian pensioners are living below the poverty line, making the country among the worst performers in the world for the financial security of older people.
Australia was ranked second lowest on social equity, with 36 per cent of pensioners living below the poverty line, which the report defined as half the relevant country’s median household income.
The report, released in December 2015 found the Australian government contributes less to old-age benefits than other OECD countries. The Australian government spends 3.5 per cent of GDP on the pension, below the OECD average of 7.9 per cent.
The findings are backed up by the Global Age Watch Index 2015 report card which rates countries by how well their older populations are faring. It ranked Australia lowest in its region on income security, due to the high rate of old age poverty and pension coverage which is below the regional average.
Chief executive of National Seniors Michael O’Neill said the pension had gone backwards in real terms and many older people had not accumulated enough superannuation to supplement the benefit. “In terms of sustainability, the report confirms that Australia spends substantially less than the OECD average on pensions,” he said. “In fact, our pension spend has dropped and plateaued since 2000. Against other countries, our proportion of pensioners living below the poverty line is startling.”
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By Lyn Lucas