Viewpoint reveals significant gender differences in salaries, economic sentiment, saving and spending

15 March 2011, Sydney: Commonwealth Bank today released its third issue of Viewpoint, a report measuring the economic vitality of the nation.  This edition examines gender fluctuations in the fields of earnings, superannuation, partner dependency and peak earning capacity.

Australian women continue to earn up to 26% less than men and face a period of just 20 years of peak earning, compared to 40 years for men. The knock on effect of these combined statistics is that women accumulate less than two thirds of the superannuation that men do (an average difference of over $35,000).  As a result, close to three quarters (73%) of women with a partner are at least partially reliant on their partner financially, compared to just 45% of men.

Commonwealth Bank Group Executive, Barbara Chapman, shares her view on these findings:

“Celebrating 100 years of International Women’s Day highlights the significant achievements and progress women have made. However the event also places a spotlight on the pertinent issues of gender differences in pay and earnings capacity that organisations need to address. Identifying and releasing the latest data in our third issue of Viewpoint is one small step in demonstrating our commitment to supporting diversity and reducing discrepancy between men’s and women’s earning ability.” 

Viewpoint also investigated the economic impact of household finances on family life. The study reveals that almost 1 in 4 parents of Australian families with children in paid care go back to work for no net financial gain.

Another major gender difference revealed by Viewpoint is the divergent perceptions between men and women on economic outlook. Across successive quarters, women are significantly less positive about their economic outlook than men.  At present, 38% of men perceive the economy to be ‘strong’ versus just 21% of women. Almost one quarter (24%) of women also believed the economy ‘was going downhill’ compared to 21% of men.

Commonwealth Bank Chief Economist, Michael Blythe, shares information about the impact of this on the economy:

“The idea of a new, frugal consumer is a key part of the economic and policy debate at present.  Viewpoint provides some interesting insights on this issue.  The divergence between retail and non-retail spending trends, where women and men’s spending dominate respectively, correlates with the divide in gender sentiment. Department store sales, for example, where women are responsible for 59% of spending, is soft.  And this softness is linked to the less positive sentiment of female consumers.

“The caution experienced by women is also evident in other Viewpoint findings.  Some 50% of women would use a $5,000 present to reduce personal debt, rather than spend or save the gift.  And significantly more women than men (20% compared to 29%) would struggle to meet an unexpected expense of $5,000 within a week.”


About Viewpoint

Viewpoint is one of the nation’s biggest consumer financial surveys and is a barometer of economic vitality. Viewpoint uses an anonymised sample of 1.3 million households, analysis of data from the Bank’s 10 million-plus strong customer base and data on daily processing of around 45% of all financial transactions.

Every month Commonwealth Bank surveys 2,000 different consumers aged 18-69 to find out how they are feeling about the economy and their personal finances. For this issue of Viewpoint, additional research was commissioned on the drivers of economic perceptions to drill deeper into why men and women view the economy so differently. This was done with 2,000 respondents.

Reported biannually, Viewpoint offers the nation timely and representative information to allow a more intimate understanding of the economic and financial vitality of Australia. Few reports match the breadth, scale and timeliness of Viewpoint.

Produced in conjunction with the University of Canberra’s NATSEM, Viewpoint and more information on its methodology is available to download at  


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To arrange an interview with Commonwealth Bank Chief Economist, Michael Blythe, contact:

Louisa Galligani
Public Relations Advisor
P (02) 9118 1784
M 0468 987 335