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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Friedrich Breyer & Stefan Hupfeld, 2007. "On the Fairness of Early Retirement Provisions," CESifo Working Paper Series 2078, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2078
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    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. 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.
    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. Eytan Sheshinski, 2002. "Optimum Delayed Retirement Credit," Discussion Paper Series dp329, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
    6. Monika Queisser & Edward Whitehouse, 2006. "Neutral or Fair?: Actuarial Concepts and Pension-System Design," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 40, OECD Publishing.
    7. 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.
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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. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Johann K. Brunner & Bernd Hoffmann, 2010. "Versicherungsmathematisch korrekte Pensionsabschläge," Economics working papers 2010-13, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    7. 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.
    8. Hans FEHR, "undated". "Pension Reform with Variable Retirment Age," EcoMod2010 259600055, EcoMod.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. 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, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    public pension system; early retirement;

    JEL classification:

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

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