The Australian Retirement Income System: Comparisons with and Lessons for the United States

Rafal Chomik and John Piggott

Abstract — Australia has an atypical retirement income system: it comprises a flat-rate, non-contributory, affluence-tested age pension, and a mandatory, defined contribution accumulation plan to which employers must contribute 9.25 percent (moving to 12 percent) of wages on behalf of their employees. We briefly compare the Australian and US economies and demographies, and then describe the Australian arrangements and assess its econ efficiency and efficacy in delivering retirement support. We focus especially on the means testing of the first pillar in Australia and the mandated membership of pre-funded private pension plans. We conclude by considering insights for the evolution of the US pension reform debate as demographic change unfolds.