The Adequacy of the Age Pension: An Assessment of Pensioner Living Standards

September 14, 2016


The Age Pension in Australia is inadequate.

It fails to provide a decent standard of living for approximately 1.5 million older Australians who rely on it as their main source of income. Some pensioners are taking drastic measures in order to make ends meet – they are turning off hot water in summer, blending food because they can’t afford a dentist and choosing between food and medication.

The financial wellbeing of age pensioners depends a great deal on their specific circumstances including where they live, whether or not they are single, their gender, and, perhaps most significantly, whether or not they own their own home. Home ownership constitutes the single biggest factor contributing to financial hardship among pensioners. Age pensioners who are renting, in particular those who are single, are the worst off. Many of these are women without superannuation or other savings. Urgent measures are required to redress the profound levels of deprivation experienced by this group of pensioners.

A wider range of measures must also be considered to ensure that all older Australians living on the Age Pension can experience a decent standard of living that is commensurate with the relative wealth of this country.