New Analysis: How to Make Budget Less Sexist

Australia Institute

The Budget has traditionally advantaged men over women. The Australia Institute has today released a paper which explores how the Budget is currently biased in favour of men, and makes seven recommendations on how to improve women’s economic security and use the Budget as a tool to reduce gender inequality.

The recommendations in this paper reflect the Australia Institute’s findings of massive bias against women in the budget initiatives and the impacts that flow from budget measures. This is despite the long history of women’s statements among the budget papers and various bureaucratic arrangements that are supposed to bring women’s perspectives into the framing of budgets. That history suggests formal responses to perceived problems can be ineffective if those who frame the budget do not prioritise outcomes for women.

Key Findings:

  • The legislated stage 3 income tax cuts, which will commence in 2024, will cost $18 billion per year, 67 per cent of which will flow to men and 33 per cent of which will flow to women. The stage 3 income tax cuts will increase the gap between the disposable incomes of men and women.
  • The skew towards men from the $41 billion cost of superannuation tax concessions combines with the gender pay gap and the broken work history of women to result in large gaps in superannuation balances between men and women.
  • The cost of providing free childcare be a small fraction of the cost of providing the stage 3 income tax cuts, and economic modelling shows that reintroducing free childcare would provide significantly greater employment, productivity and GDP benefits.

The key recommendations to help make the Budget less sexist:

  1. The Federal Government abandon the stage 3 income tax cut.
  2. Superannuation tax concessions be channelled into additional support for women with broken work histories and lower incomes prior to retirement.
  3. The Government reintroduce free or low-cost universal public childcare to ensure that this cost does not prevent women from participating in paid work.

“Budgets spell out a government’s priorities in the clearest possible terms. Last year’s budget, and every budget before it, has prioritised the preferences of men over the priorities of women,” said Matt Grudnoff, senior economist at the Australia Institute.

“Budgets show the priorities that governments are willing to spend money on and those they are not. Helping parents afford childcare, helping women earn as much as men, helping women find refuge from domestic violence or recover from domestic or sexual violence, or helping women to retire as securely as men have simply not been priorities of the Federal Government for the last seven years,” Mr Grudnoff said.

“Our research shows spending on education, healthcare or caring sectors would create more jobs for women – or for men – than construction would create for anyone,” said Eliza Littleton, research economist at the Australia Institute.

“There is a huge bias against women in the budget initiatives and the impacts that flow from budget measures. This is despite the long history of women’s statements among the budget papers and various bureaucratic arrangements that are supposed to bring women’s perspectives into the framing of budgets. That history suggests formal responses can be ineffective if those who frame the budget do not prioritise outcomes for women,” Ms Littleton said.

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