Strengthening Men's Economic Security

In recent years, Governments across Australia have taken action to address gender inequalities in economic security. This important work has highlighted some of the key areas where women have lower levels of economic security than men, with a particular focus on workforce participation, gender pay gaps and superannuation.

What’s missing from this approach, is a recognition of the areas where men experience low levels of economic security. For example:

  • Men are less likely to own their own home
  • Men are more likely to be homeless
  • Men have less social capital (access to financial support from others)
  • Men experience a 7% part-time gender pay gap
  • 45% of people with no superannuation are men
  • Seven out of 10 men not in a couple relationship have no superannuation
  • Men are twice as likely to have a problem with gambling
  • 12 times more male suicides are linked to financial problems

Around two million men experience some form of economic insecurity:

  • 1.9 million men live in households with low economic resources
  • 1.5 million have no superannuation coverage
  • 1.4 million men living in households with cashflow problems
  • 1.2 million men couldn’t access $2,000 in an emergency
  • 1.2 million men in employment have no paid leave entitlements
  • 450k men live in rental stress

While men’s and women’s roles have changed significantly in recent decades, there remain clear gender differences in the ways men and women take share responsibility for their household’s economic security. Both men and women do a daily average of around 7.5 hours of paid and unpaid work. Roughly speaking, men spend twice as many hours doing paid work and women spend twice as many hours on unpaid work, such as childcare.

The way men and women share responsibility for paid and unpaid work is one of the key contributors to the gender pay gap. Other factors include lack of workplace flexibility; women taking career breaks; men working in higher paid industries and job positions and sex discrimination.

In at least 85% of couple families, men are the primary breadwinner and 44.8% of women don’t have any superannuation, compared with 28.6% of men. In contrast, for those not in a couple relationship, 55.4% of women and 71.4% of men don’t have superannuation.

Finally, when we consider gender and workforce participation, it is important to note that the proportion of men not in the labour force has risen from 5% to around 20% since the 1960s. If we want to create better economic security for everyone, we need to do a better job of supporting both men and women in financial difficulty.

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