A survey by Tamedia offers clues to why 52.7% of Swiss voters rejected the pension reform plan that was put to a vote last Sunday.
20% of those voting “no” thought it was a pseudo reform that didn’t go far enough, while 26% felt it left too much of a burden on younger taxpayers.
In 1981, an average woman time spent around 19 years collecting the state pension – life expectancy at 65 was 18.2 and the retirement age 64. Now an average Swiss woman can expect around 24 years of state pension – life expectancy at 65 had risen to 22.6 years by 2016.
This means that since 1981, the expected pension years for a Swiss woman have gone up 26%. Pushing the retirement age up to 67 would only reduce this period to 21 years, still 2 years longer than it was in 1981.
While people now live longer, not all of the extra lifespan is lived in good health. However, according to the World Health Organisation, an average Swiss woman can expect 21 healthy years from the age of 60, a healthy life span of 81 years, one of the highest in the world. The same figure for men is 18.7 years, an average healthy life span of nearly 79 years, assuming you make it to 60.
The survey revealed that while 62% were resigned to the retirement age increasing to 67 years over the next decade, only 31% would vote for it.
Hans-Ulrich Bigler, a parliamentarian, member of the PLR/FDP and the director of the Swiss SME Union, told 20 Minuten that he thinks the mentality is changing. People know that sacrifices need to be made to stabilse the system.
Another, Silvia Schenker from the Socialist party, said “People know that one way or another we’ll move to a higher retirement age, but as long as the people need to approve it the increase will not happen quickly.”
Many of the comments on the 20 Minutes website point out another sticking point: the difficulty of working longer in certain jobs like construction. How could people in these jobs be helped to shift into other fields more suitable for older workers? The reform plan appeared to make no mention of this.
The Tamedia survey was run from 22 to 24 September. Around 10,000 people across Switzerland responded.