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On the Fairness of Early-Retirement Provisions

  • Friedrich Breyer
  • Stefan Hupfeld

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.

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Article provided by Verein für Socialpolitik in its journal German Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 11 (2010)
Issue (Month): (02)
Pages: 60-77

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Handle: RePEc:bla:germec:v:11:y:2010:i::p:60-77
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  1. Michael D. Hurd & James P. Smith & Julie M. Zissimopoulos, 2002. "The Effects of Subjective Survival on Retirement and Social Security Claiming," NBER Working Papers 9140, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Eytan Sheshinski, 2003. "Optimum Delayed Retirement Credit," CESifo Working Paper Series 889, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  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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