Spain inches ahead with pension reform

Link: https://www.thelocal.com/20210718/spain-inches-ahead-with-pension-reform/

Excerpt:

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Spain will pay workers to postpone retirement as part of a pensions reform strategy that analysts warn does not go far enough to cut a huge deficit in the system.

With nearly 30 billion euros ($36 billion) of annual losses in 2020 and rising, Spain’s social security budget is one of the biggest contributors to the country’s ballooning public deficit.

The European Commission has long demanded that Spain reform its pension system and has made it a condition for accessing European Union economic recovery funds.

Under a planned reform unveiled earlier this month that aims to get more people to work longer, Spain will give cheques worth up to 12,000 euros ($14,000) per year to retirement-age workers who postpone their retirement.

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The 2013 reform also gradually increased the legal retirement age to reach 67 in 2027 from around 65 years currently.

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Jordi Fabregat of the Esade business school said part of the problem is that Spain offers generous public pensions, with monthly payments amounting to 80 percent of a worker’s final salary compared with an average of 55 percent for all of Europe.

Publication Date: 18 July 2021

Publication Site: The Local

Vote to increase Swiss retirement age clears signature hurdle

Excerpt:

The youth chapter of the PLR (FDP) has successfully collected enough signatures for an initiative to raise the official retirement age in Switzerland to 66 years old, reported RTS.

On 16 July 2021, initiative organisers submitted 145,000 voter signatures as part of the formal process of launching a referendum in Switzerland. Under referendum rules a minimum of 100,000 valid signatures must be collected within 18 months.

The official retirement age in Switzerland is currently 65 for men and 64 for women, although the government recently passed laws to create a universal retirement age of 65 for both men and women. The federal government also agreed to increase VAT up to 8% to help improve pension system finances.

The perilous state of Switzerland’s state pension system is well known. People are living longer and the nation’s population is ageing, leaving fewer working-age tax payers to fund the pensions of a rising number of retirees. Without reform a funding shortfall of CHF 200 billion is forecast over the next 25 years.

Publication Date: 23 July 2021

Publication Site: Le News

Unions contest pension reform plans with Bern demonstration

Link: https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/unions-contest-pension-reform-plans-with-bern-demonstration/46959184

Excerpt:

Thousands marched in Bern on Saturday against a proposed reforms of the Swiss old-age pension scheme, notably the plan to raise the retirement age for women from 64 to 65.

The demonstration, which was authorised by Bern authorities, was attended by some 15,000 people, according to the trade unions who organised it; the police have not (yet) released estimates.

The protest took place under the slogan “hands off our pensions”, and was clearly aimed at parliamentarians currently discussing an overhaul of the country’s three-pillar system.

A press release by the Trade Union Federation said that the current pension system is “no longer enough to live on” and that politicians should be raising payments rather than trying to cut them; as for making women work a year longer, this is a non-runner, it says, given the years of part-time and unpaid work they do during their active lives.

Publication Date: 18 Sept 2021

Publication Site: Swiss Info

Populists May Kill Chile’s Pension Success

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/populists-may-kill-chiles-pension-success-11622670275

Excerpt:

Populist politicians are destroying Chile’s revolutionary pension system. In 1981 Chile became the first country to privatize social security, ending the pay-as-you-go system that had been in place since 1924 and had collapsed. Now Chile’s left wants to resurrect it.

The state-run pension system was plagued by corruption and rent-seeking since its earliest days. Among the 11,395 laws passed by the Chilean Congress between 1926 and 1963, 10,532 granted pension privileges to special-interest groups, many of them politically connected. In 1968, Chilean President Eduardo Frei, a center-left Christian Democrat, described the cronyism that plagued social security as an “absurd monstrosity” that the government couldn’t afford.

Pension privatization reversed this perverse dynamic. Instead of taxing active workers to pay pensioners through the bureaucracy, the new system, created by former Labor Minister Jose Pinera, established that 10% of the employee’s salary is transferred automatically to an account under his name at one of the Administradoras de Fondos de Pensiones, or AFP. These private pension funds compete to attract workers and invest their pensions for a fee.

This has restored the link between contributions and pension benefits by making workers responsible for saving the funds that will support them once they retire. This novel system also limited corruption and rent-seeking, and Chilean taxpayers are no longer on the hook for pension deficits, which in 1981 represented 3% of gross domestic product.

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Longer life expectancy is also a problem. When the AFP system was created, men retired at 65 with an average life expectancy around 67. Women retired at the age of 60 with a life expectancy around 74. Today, the retirement ages are unchanged but life expectancy has increased to 77 for men and 83 for women. This means more years of retirement have to be funded by the same years of saving.

Author(s): Axel Kaiser

Publication Date: 2 June 2021

Publication Site: WSJ

DO MEN WHO WORK LONGER LIVE LONGER? EVIDENCE FROM THE NETHERLANDS

Link: https://crr.bc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/IB-21-8.pdf

Graphic:

Excerpt:

As expected, the raw data show that Dutch men who worked at ages 62-65 were less likely to die over the subsequent five years than men who were not working (see Figure 1). Importantly, Figure 1 shows that mortality decreased at nearly identical rates for working and non-working men between 1999 and 2008, before the policy became available. The fact that these trends are parallel provides more confidence in the policy experiment, indicating that whatever was happening to working men prior to the DWB was also happening to non-working men. In contrast, the mortality rate in 2009-2011 continued to improve somewhat for working men, who were benefiting from the DWB, while the mortality rate for non-working men plateaued.

Author(s): Alice Zulkarnain, Matthew S. Rutledge

Publication Date: May 2021

Publication Site: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

The Best Reason to Take Social Security Long Before Age 70

Link: https://www.fool.com/retirement/2021/05/18/the-best-reason-to-take-social-security-long-befor/

Excerpt:

Delaying Social Security may mean scoring a higher monthly benefit — but it doesn’t necessarily mean snagging a higher lifetime benefit. In fact, if you pass away at a somewhat young age, you’ll actually lose out on lifetime income by delaying your filing until 70.

Let’s imagine you’re entitled to a monthly benefit of $1,500 at an FRA of 67. If you were to claim that benefit at age 62, it would shrink to $1,050, whereas delaying it until 70 would let it grow to $1,860.

But if you were to pass away at the age of 78, which is considered relatively young given today’s life expectancies, here’s what you’d be looking at in terms of lifetime income:

Filing at 62 would leave you with $201,600

Filing at 67 would leave you with $198,000

Filing at 70 would leave you with $178,560

Author(s): Maurie Backman (TMFBookNerd)

Publication Date: 18 May 2021

Publication Site: Motley Fool

As World Runs Short of Workers, a Boost for Wages—and Inflation

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/as-world-runs-short-of-workers-a-boost-for-wagesand-inflation-11620824675

Graphic:

Excerpt:

The U.S. population grew 7% between 2010 and 2020, according to census results. The age breakdown isn’t yet available, but a smaller sample by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the working-age population — those 16 to 64 — grew just 3.3%. Because the share of those people working or looking for work has shrunk, the working-age labor force grew only 2%, and actually shrank last year. Some of those missing workers will return when the virus recedes. But many won’t: Baby boomer retirements have soared.

Reversing this move would require either a dramatic increase in births, which has eluded countries with more-family-friendly policies, or immigration, which is politically hard.

The demographic squeeze is far more severe in China, which admits almost no immigrants and for years limited families to one child. Tuesday, authorities said the population in China had grown just 5.4% in the past decade. The working-age population — those 15 to 59 — shrank 5%, or roughly 45 million people. When worker shortages began emerging over a decade ago, factories began moving to poorer inland provinces and then cheaper countries including Vietnam. In recent years some indicators suggest jobs are getting harder to fill, though the data might not be nationally representative.

Author(s): Greg Ip

Publication Date: 12 May 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

Is China’s population shrinking?

Link: https://www.economist.com/china/2021/04/29/is-chinas-population-shrinking

Graphic:

Excerpt:

The Communist Party has long known that, partly as the result of its brutal birth-control policies, China’s population would soon peak and start to shrink. It has been startled, however, by how rapidly that moment has drawn near. Now, it looks as if it might have arrived.

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There are also indications that China’s total fertility rate (the number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime) has dropped faster than previously thought. Chinese planners have assumed a rate of 1.8, but some Chinese scholars (and the World Bank) say it between 1.6 and 1.7. A working paper released in March by China’s central bank suggests the rate is no more than 1.5.

Publication Date: 1 May 2021

Publication Site: The Economist

MassMutual Explores Near-Retiree Knowledge of Social Security Retirement Benefits During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Link: https://www.argus-press.com/news/national/article_5ecdc18f-9144-582e-9fd1-aeb1c64c8d90.html

Excerpt:

Just over one-third (35%) of near-retirees (age 55 to 65) failed and another 18% earned a grade of D on a basic knowledge quiz about Social Security retirement benefits, while only 3%, received an A+ by answering all 12 true/false statements correctly, according to the latest MassMutual Social Security consumer poll.

Even more startling, over a quarter (26%) of individuals age 60 to 65 have no idea of the full retirement age.

There is good news, however, and an improving trend.

A large majority (83%) are very knowledgeable about the consequences of receiving Social Security benefits before reaching their full retirement age. A whopping 94% know that if they take benefits before full retirement age, their benefits will be reduced as a result of filing early while 86% know that if they receive benefits before their full retirement age and continue to work, their benefits may be reduced based on how much they make.

Publication Date: 6 April 2021

Publication Site: Argus Press

Ukraine raises retirement age for women to 60 years old

Link: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/europe/2021-04/02/c_139854924.htm

Excerpt:

The Ukrainian government has raised the age of retirement for women to 60 years old since April 1 this year.

The change was due to the law on raising the retirement age for women from 55 to 60 years old, which was passed by the Ukrainian Parliament in 2011.

Now in Ukraine men and women retire at the same age.

The Ukrainian authorities explained that the increase in the retirement age for women was to mitigate the negative consequences of the aging population, and reduce the deficit of the Pension Fund of Ukraine, which at the end of 2020 reached 13.2 billion hryvnia (474.5 million U.S. dollars).

Publication Date: 2 April 2021

Publication Site: Xinhua

The Average Retirement Age in Every State

Link: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/average-retirement-age-every-state-150000450.html

Excerpt:

Retiring early seems to be on everyone’s minds these days. The growing popularity of the so-called FIRE movement — short for financial independence, retire early — is a testament to how much everyone seems to be craving a slice of “the easy life.” The good news is that in many U.S. states, what most people would call an “early” retirement is within reach. Although “full retirement age” for Social Security purposes isn’t until age 67, the average retirement age in every single state — with the exception of the District of Columbia — is below 67. On average, retirees in the U.S. hang up their work boots at age 64, according to Money Talks News.

Of course, to truly live a comfortable retirement takes more than desire — it also takes a large chunk of cash.

If nothing else, this study proves two things. First, the state in which you live can play a big role in how early you can retire, as evidenced by the low average retirement ages across wide swaths of the South and Midwest. Next, it takes more than $1 million to have a comfortable retirement in any state in America — or over $2 million in the case of Hawaii and the District of Columbia — so it’s important to work with a retirement advisor or the best 401(k) providers to help boost your savings as much as possible.

Author(s): John Csiszar

Publication Date: 11 March 2021

Publication Site: Yahoo Finance

China’s young and old rail against raising retirement age

Link: https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Society/China-s-young-and-old-rail-against-raising-retirement-age

Excerpt:

The retirement age for employees in the public sector and at state-owned enterprises is set at 60 for men, 55 for female office workers and 50 for female blue-collar workers. This has remained unchanged since around the time of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, even as life expectancy has risen to more than 80 in urban areas.

The government work report presented to the National People’s Congress in March stated that “the statutory retirement age will be raised in a phased manner” as part of the new five-year plan for 2021 through 2025.

Beijing sees this as necessary to alleviate pressure on the social safety net and head off a labor shortage that could set it back in its power struggle with Washington. But resistance is strong from young graduates concerned about the impact on their career prospects as well as from grandparents expected to care for grand children after retirement. 

Author(s): Iori Kawate

Publication Date: 4 April 2021

Publication Site: Nikkei Asia