A majority of the candidates putting themselves forward for election as federal parliamentarians on 20 October 2019 favour raising Switzerland’s retirement age to 67, according to a survey done by Smartvote and reported in the newspaper NZZ am Sonntag.
This could produce a parliamentary majority on the issue after the federal election.
Switzerland’s official retirement age has moved into political focus as the country’s pay-as-you-go state pension system comes under the financial strain of an aging population and increased longevity.
Public reactions to the idea are mixed, however the arithmetic is difficult to overlook.
With Swiss life expectancy at 84 years, the average time spent collecting a pension in Switzerland is close to 20 years, around one third of adult life. Going forward this is likely to grow at the same time as the number of pension-aged people relative to workers rises. Making the numbers work will require more than tinkering.
Pushing out the age of retirement is probably the lever with the largest financial impact. Currently, pushing it out by one year would improve pension finances by around 5%. Pushing it out by three years would improve them by 15%.
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Age discrimination, a persistent and widespread phenomenon in Switzerland, is one challenge intertwined with the politics of extending the retirement age.