Postprint of: Heng, P, Niblock, SJ & Harrison, JL 2015, 'Retirement policy: a review of the role, characteristics, and contribution of the Australian superannuation system', Asian - Pacific Economic Literature, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 1-17.
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With a market capitalisation of over $1.84 trillion dollars and large annual flows, the Superannuation Guarantee has been regarded as the backbone of Australia's retirement policy scheme and a primary driver of economic growth. However, losses encountered in the aftermath of the global financial crisis led to a major review of superannuation, mainly in response to the lack of accountability, comparability, and transparency discovered within ‘default’ investment options. An outcome of this review was the MySuper initiative, which imposes obligations on fund providers to reconfigure their default investment strategies in accordance with new regulatory requirements. Despite these policy reforms, other challenges remain, such as gender inequality, excessive superannuation fees, low financial literacy, and lack of member participation in growing retirement savings. The paper provides a review of literature pertaining to the background, significant policy changes, and ongoing development of the Australian superannuation system. We emphasise the role of superannuation in the economy; characteristics of the industry, plans, and funds on offer; recent policy initiatives; and perceived inadequacies of the system. The paper concludes with possibilities for further empirical research.