The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) has increased its estimate of the cost of menopause to more than $112.2 billion as it continued to urge the Federal Government to measure and report on its impact on women’s retirement incomes. 

CEO Eva Scheerlinck said AIST’s previous estimate of between $17 billion and $35 billion was conservative. The peak body for profit-to-member funds had adjusted its assumptions based on new data and a broader analysis of the impact on women. 

AIST bases its estimates on publicly available data sources, but recommends that the government undertake its own comprehensive analysis. 

Sheerlinck said that with the average age of menopause being 51 and many women experiencing symptoms for five to 10 years, the impact of this life change affecting all women needed to be quantified so that appropriate policy and public health interventions could be developed. 

“This is a great time for this work to be done because women retire with 40% less superannuation than men and they live longer. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” Sheerlinck said in a media release on Monday morning.

In a pre-budget submission, AIST recommended the government provide funding to the Office for Women to measure and report on the extent to which menopausal symptoms impact women’s employment and retirement decisions, super, and retirement incomes. 

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, the average retirement age is 52.1 for women and 59.5 for men. A woman retiring at the average age for a man would accrue an additional 7.4 years of income and superannuation, which, based on the average income for women aged 45 to 54, amounted to lost salary and wages and foregone superannuation of more than $577,512. 

There were 694,143 women in the workforce in November 2022, according to ABS data. By the government’s estimates, 28 per cent of menopausal women will have symptoms severe enough to impact their participation in the workforce. 

This translates to a collective economic loss of $15.2 billion annually and more than $112.2 billion in foregone earnings and super over 7.4 years.