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On the Fairness of Early Retirement Provisions

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  • Friedrich Breyer
  • Stefan Hupfeld

Abstract

Declining fertility and increasing longevity have rendered public pension systems in many OECD countries unsustainable and have triggered substantial reforms of these systems. One of the officially declared reform objectives is to raise the average retirement age. Crucial parameters for this endeavor are first the legal retirement age and secondly the early retirement provisions inherent in the public pension system. In this paper we discuss several notions of "fairness" of early retirement provisions in pay-as-you-go financed public pension systems and we claim that the "right" notion of fairness depends upon the objectives pursued in the design of pension systems. We point out the problems attached to the extreme positions "efficiency" and "welfare maximization" and propose a more modest concept of equity called "distributive neutrality", which is based on the notion that the ratio between total benefits and total contributions to the pension system should not depend systematically on the individual’s ability. By applying this concept to the German retirement benefit formula and taking empirically estimated relationships between average annual income, life expectancy and retirement age into account, we show that at the present discount rate of 3.6 per cent per year there is systematic redistribution from low to high earners, which would be attenuated if the discount rate were raised. This seemingly paradoxical finding is due to the fact that in our data set, there is a negative relationship between earnings and retirement age.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2078.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2078

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Keywords: public pension system; early retirement;

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References

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  1. Michael D. Hurd & James P. Smith & Julie M. Zissimopoulos, 2004. "The effects of subjective survival on retirement and Social Security claiming," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(6), pages 761-775.
  2. Hans-Martin von Gaudecker & Rembrandt D. Scholz, 2006. "Lifetime Earnings and Life Expectancy," MEA discussion paper series 06102, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  3. Hans-Martin von Gaudecker & Rembrandt D. Scholz, 2007. "Differential mortality by lifetime earnings in Germany," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 17(4), pages 83-108, August.
  4. Monika Queisser & Edward R. Whitehouse, 2006. "Neutral or Fair?: Actuarial Concepts and Pension-System Design," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 40, OECD Publishing.
  5. Eytan Sheshinski, 2002. "Optimum Delayed Retirement Credit," Discussion Paper Series dp329, The Center for the Study of Rationality, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  6. Breyer, Friedrich & Kifmann, Mathias, 2002. "Incentives to retire later a solution to the social security crisis?," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(02), pages 111-130, July.
  7. Axel Börsch-Supan & Barbara Berkel, 2004. "Pension Reform in Germany: The Impact on Retirement Decisions," MEA discussion paper series 04062, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
  8. Barbara Berkel & Axel Börsch-Supan, 2004. "Pension Reform in Germany: The Impact on Retirement Decisions," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 60(3), pages 393-, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Johann K. Brunner & Bernd Hoffmann, 2010. "Versicherungsmathematisch korrekte Pensionsabschläge," NRN working papers 2010-17, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  2. Potrafke, Niklas, 2012. "Unemployment, human capital depreciation and pension benefits: an empirical evaluation of German data," Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(02), pages 223-241, April.
  3. Walter H. Fisher & Christian Keuschnigg, 2007. "Pension Reform and Labor Market Incentives," CESifo Working Paper Series 2057, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Martin Werding, 2007. "Versicherungsmathematisch korrekte Rentenabschläge für die gesetzliche Rentenversicherung," Ifo Schnelldienst, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 60(16), pages 19-32, 08.
  5. Hugo Benitez-Silva & Na Yin, 2007. "An Empirical Study of the Effects of Social Security Reforms on Claming Behavior and Benefits Receipt Using Aggregate and Public-Use Administrative Micro Data," Department of Economics Working Papers 07-05, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
  6. Stefan Arent & Alexander Eck & Oskar Krohmer & Robert Lehmann & Wolfgang Nagl & Joachim Ragnitz & Marcel Thum, 2011. "Wirtschaftliche Entwicklung Sachsens im Ländervergleich: Bestandsaufnahme und Perspektiven: Gutachten im Auftrag der Sächsischen Staatskanzlei," ifo Dresden Studien, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 59.
  7. Keuschnigg, Christian & Fisher, Walter, 2011. "Life-Cycle Unemployment, Retirement and Parametric Pension Reform," Economics Working Paper Series 1119, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.

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