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On the Fairness of Early-Retirement Provisions

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  • Friedrich Breyer
  • Stefan Hupfeld

Abstract

A crucial parameter for increasing the retirement age is the early-retirement discount of the public pension system. Critics of the present German system argue that the downward adjustment of the pension for early retirees is too small compared with a 'fair' system and thus encourages early retirement. We discuss several notions of 'fairness' of early-retirement provisions and propose a concept called 'distributive neutrality', which states that the ratio between total benefits and total contributions 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 annual income (as a proxy for ability), life expectancy and retirement age into account, we show that at the present discount rate of 3.6% per year there is redistribution from low to high earners, which, surprisingly, could be attenuated by raising the discount rate. Copyright 2009 The Authors. Journal Compilation Verein für Socialpolitik and Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2009.

Suggested Citation

  • Friedrich Breyer & Stefan Hupfeld, 2010. "On the Fairness of Early-Retirement Provisions," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 11, pages 60-77, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:germec:v:11:y:2010:i::p:60-77
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Berkel, Barbara & Börsch-Supan, Axel, 2004. "Pension reform in Germany : the impact on retirement decisions," Papers 04-62, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
    2. von Gaudecker, Hans-Martin & Scholz, Rembrandt, 2006. "Lifetime Earnings and Life Expectancy," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 07-05, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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 393-393, September.
    6. 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.
    7. Eytan Sheshinski, 2002. "Optimum Delayed Retirement Credit," Discussion Paper Series dp329, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Holger Lüthen, 2016. "Rates of Return and Early Retirement Disincentives: Evidence from a German Pension Reform," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 17(2), pages 206-233, May.
    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. Martin Werding, 2007. "Versicherungsmathematisch korrekte Rentenabschläge für die gesetzliche Rentenversicherung," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 60(16), pages 19-32, August.
    4. Walter Fisher & Christian Keuschnigg, 2010. "Pension reform and labor market incentives," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 23(2), pages 769-803, March.
    5. Hupfeld, Stefan, 2009. "Rich and healthy--better than poor and sick?: An empirical analysis of income, health, and the duration of the pension benefit spell," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 427-443, March.
    6. Ludwig, Alexander, 2016. "Das Deutsche Rentensystem: Thesen zur derzeitigen Diskussion um "Umkehr"-Reformen," SAFE White Paper Series 40, Goethe University Frankfurt, Research Center SAFE - Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe.
    7. Johann K. Brunner & Bernd Hoffmann, 2010. "Versicherungsmathematisch korrekte Pensionsabschläge," Economics working papers 2010-13, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    8. Kemptner, Daniel & Haan, Peter & Lüthen, Holger, 2017. "The increasing longevity gap by lifetime earnings and its distributional implications," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168278, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    9. Fisher, Walter H. & Keuschnigg, Christian, 2011. "Life-Cycle Unemployment, Retirement, and Parametric Pension Reform," Economics Series 267, Institute for Advanced Studies.
    10. 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 - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 59.
    11. Hans FEHR, "undated". "Pension Reform with Variable Retirment Age," EcoMod2010 259600055, EcoMod.
    12. 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.

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    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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