CSIRO-Monash Superannuation Research Cluster

The CSIRO-Monash Superannuation Research Cluster is a a multi-year research collaboration between Australia’s CSIRO and four universities, with support from industry and government organisations. The project ran from 2013-2017.
The project aimed to develop an evidence base, assisting policy-makers and industry to provide better outcomes and products for superannuation fund members and retirees.
For more details, use the links (right) to jump to information about the project, its research and impact, or opportunities for further research collaboration.

Alternatively, download the Superannuation Cluster Review: 2013-2017

Research areas

Infrastructure Investment

The underlying design feature of this Cluster Project considers infrastructure as one of numerous asset classes in which superannuation funds can invest to explore the asset class and portfolio characteristics of this key investment exposure. The Cluster Project also explores lessons from PPPs to provide insights into structuring future infrastructure investments

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Fund Style

This Cluster Project aims to maximise retirement outcomes for the superannuant and comprises various sub-projects. The researchers consider and evaluate various alternative indexes recently proposed. They also consider the effect of hidden costs on indexing and retirement investments, such as market impact and high frequency traders and how trading style may mitigate such costs. Finally, the researchers explore non-linear hedge fund cloning as one potential way the costs of investing in alternative assets such as hedge funds might be reduced to better serve investors.

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Retirement Outcomes

This Cluster Project considers the superannuation journey across the life course, from the accumulation phase, to conversion and the decumulation/distribution phase.  The research design of this project is outcome-oriented, emphasizing the contrasting experiences of different age groups, dynamic risks and cohort outcomes. The research will consider the ability of a range of investment strategies to achieve retirement adequacy for Australians, including the two large liabilities of an ageing population: later life medical expense and the costs associated with aged care.

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Wealth and Health

The project considers the role of socioeconomic status in the determination of health and quality of life in Australia, with a particular emphasis on retirees. It focuses on the impact of fluctuations in wealth over time – particularly that induced by market volatility – as a consequence of retirement and variations in the value of superannuation on individual life circumstance and particularly on measures of wellbeing, health status and health care expenditure. This is important for policy-makers who aim to develop post-retirement incomes policies that seek to improve elderly Australians’ health outcomes and reduce future health care expenditures. The research involves the econometric analysis of high-quality Australian data to provide evidence on this issue, and will also look to use complementary British data to provide useful comparisons.

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Retirement Income

This multi-disciplinary project is structured into five themes: Government Data Analysis, Retirement Income Forecasting, Retirement Investment Life-Cycle, Retirement Product Design and Behavioural Economics and Digital Services.

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Member Behaviour

A key element in the structure and performance of Australia’s superannuation system concerns the nature and scope of member behaviour as regards the choice of savings options and investment vehicles, and their response to changing personal circumstances and financial markets. Many participants in superannuation plans give-over responsibility for making such choices to the sponsoring institution (the employer, the superfund, etc.). Notwithstanding the significance of ‘passive’ participation in the Australian superannuation system, little is known about the behavioural histories of superannuation plan members over the short, medium, and longer terms, or how superannuation plan members react to changing macroeconomic and financial market circumstances. Academic research has found it difficult to situate observed behaviour in the context of members’ longer term behaviour. This cluster project seeks to better understand patterns of active versus passive behaviour, short-term and longer term behaviour, and the responses of members to events as well as advice given by the superannuation fund.

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Super and the Economy

The project aims to support better policy making around superannuation by providing a better understanding of the impacts of policy changes on the Australian economy. The first part of this Cluster’s work will involve developing a platform – based on Victoria University’s multisectoral model of the national economy – to explore the economy-wide impacts of policy issues and recommendations emerging from the broad Cluster Research program. From this the team will examine how design features of the superannuation system and any proposed changes might affect macroeconomic stability. By varying the structural and policy settings, it will be possible to construct a number of plausible alternative forecasts for the development of the national economy.

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European Perspectives

Research under this cluster project addresses what can be learned from European experience. Where are the success stories to be found – and what factors contributed to positive outcomes? Topics included are gender gap in retirement outcomes, and governance of funds.

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Older Workers

The overall aim of this Cluster Project is to draw on Australian, European and other international experience to produce better understandings of the relationships between age, the labour market and retirement. Its purpose is to inform public policy aimed at the prolongation of working life, the effective management of ageing workforces, and the reconciliation of personal and organizational strategies. The research will look into ageism and the social construction of older workers, as well as those with chronic conditions and/or disability, and possible policy responses. They will also examine possible new patterns of retirement and later-life employment, including ‘bridge’ employment and its effect on well-being.

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