Retirement age based on life expectancy? Switzerland debates pension reform

Retirement age based on life expectancy? Switzerland debates pension reform

In order to make Swiss pensions more sustainable, the "GenerationenInitiative" or Generation Initiative has proposed linking the age of retirement with life expectancy, as well as providing fewer benefits and reduced payouts.

Generationeninitiative calls for new pension reform in Switzerland

The new “Yes to fair and secure pensions” or GenerationenInitiative wants to tackle the “generational divide” between people working in Switzerland and those who are retired. According to retired ETH Zurich professor Walter Steurer, around six billion Swiss francs a year are transferred from young people with salaries to old-age pensioners. If something isn't done, Steurer predicts this trend will increase exponentially.

The new plan would modify fixed state pensions such as AHV / OASI and BVG to become more flexible in what they pay and when they pay it. This would see the amount pensioners receive vary by personal assets, age and the current economic climate. It is hoped by GenerationenInitiative that this would make pension funds more sustainable and ease the pressure on workers.

The advocates for the referendum claimed that constant changes in pension rate would prevent the transfer of wealth from young to old, although they conceded that this could lead to lower pension returns and a longer wait for retirement.

As GenerationenInitiative explained in their manifesto, “Fixed pensions that were promised for life upon retirement are always too high or too low. A small part of the pension should be able to be adjusted periodically - upwards and downwards."

Alongside flexible pensions, the initiative also proposed to raise the age of retirement in line with life expectancy, giving workers more time to save and less time claiming their pension. The initiative made the case that the current pension system was not designed for how long people live in 2021 and that this “far-sighted” reform was the only way to solve the financial issues that government pension schemes face, without investing more money.

Swiss government debates increase in retirement age

The question of how to reform pensions in Switzerland was also brought to the Federal Council on Tuesday. The main area of discussion was a bill to increase the retirement age for women from 64 to 65, making the age the same for women and men, alongside changes to AHV and BVG pensions. 

The government expects that an increase in business taxes would pay for pension reform, although critics affirmed that the current system would need exponential amounts of spending through taxation to stay afloat. The government changes will be put to a vote by next year, with GenerationenInitiative hoping to reach the signature threshold for a referendum by 2022.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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