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Don't Raise the Retirement Age! An Experiment on Opposition to Pension Reforms and East-West Differences in Germany

  • Beatrice Scheubel
  • Daniel Schunk
  • Joachim Winter

For policy reforms to increase a society's welfare, reliable information on people's prefer-ences and expectations is crucial. Representative opinion polls, often involving simplified questions about the complex topics under debate, are an important source of information for both policy-makers and the public. Do people's answers to these poll questions reliably reflect their preferences and expectations, or does fundamental, undiscriminating opposition to reforms distort them? We address this question in the context of a recent German pension reform which raised the statutory retirement age by two years to age 67. By introducing an experiment into a representative household survey, we are able to disentangle expectations of work ability at retirement and fundamental opposition. Our results show that expected work ability declines substantially with increasing target age (63, 65, or 67 years). Answers from West German respondents reflect their current life situation as well as individual health and other risk factors. However, a fundamental opposition to reforms of the welfare state appears to strongly affect responses from East German households.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2752.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2752
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  1. Kathleen McGarry, 2004. "Health and Retirement: Do Changes in Health Affect Retirement Expectations?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
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  4. Börsch-Supan, Axel, 2004. "MIND THE GAP: The Effectiveness of Incentives to Boost Retirement Saving in Europe," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 07-27, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
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  8. Alicia H. Munnell & Mauricio Soto & Alex Golub-Sass, 2008. "Will People Be Healthy Enough to Work Longer?," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2008-11, Center for Retirement Research, revised Aug 2008.
  9. Weiss, Matthias & Börsch-Supan, Axel, 2011. "Productivity and age: Evidence from work teams at the assembly line," Annual Conference 2011 (Frankfurt, Main): The Order of the World Economy - Lessons from the Crisis 48719, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
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  11. Gary Burtless & Joseph F. Quinn, 2000. "Retirement Trends and Policies to Encourage Work Among Older Americans," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 436, Boston College Department of Economics.
  12. Owen O'Donnell & Federica Teppa & Eddy van Doorslaer, 2008. "Can subjective survival expectations explain retirement behaviour?," DNB Working Papers 188, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  13. Sendhil Mullainathan & Marianne Bertrand, 2001. "Do People Mean What They Say? Implications for Subjective Survey Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 67-72, May.
  14. Cukierman, Alex, 1991. " Asymmetric Information and the Electoral Momentum of Public Opinion Polls," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 70(2), pages 181-213, May.
  15. Ockenfels, Axel & Weimann, Joachim, 1999. "Types and patterns: an experimental East-West-German comparison of cooperation and solidarity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 275-287, February.
  16. Monika Bütler, 2002. "The Political Feasibility of Increasing the Retirement Age: Lessons from a Ballot on the Female Retirement Age," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 9(4), pages 349-365, August.
  17. Axel Börsch-Supan, 2004. "Mind the Gap: The Effectiveness of Incentives to boost Retirement Saving in Europe," MEA discussion paper series 04052, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
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