To make the numbers work, pay-as-you-go state pensions require a high ratio of workers, who pay into the system, to retirees, who get money out. This leads some governments with growing populations of pensioners to push for higher birth rates. However, according to a climate report by Lund University having one less child is the most impactful action for reducing climate change, 24 times more so than living car free.
Until high-emission countries significantly cut emissions, immigration, the other often suggested fix for aging populations with pay-as-you-go pensions, will increase global emissions as it typically involves people moving from low- to high-emission countries.
In addition, many retirees live off investments. High yielding investments require economic growth, something that risks putting ever greater pressure on the environment.
Those who stay employed have less need for pensions and investment income.
Pensions and retirement are relatively recent. Germany introduced the first state pension for those over 70 in 1889, when average life expectancy was 45.
Could rethinking retirement help to save the environment? What do you think?