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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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  10. 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.
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  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. Kathleen McGarry, 2004. "Health and Retirement: Do Changes in Health Affect Retirement Expectations?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
  17. 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.
  18. Butler, Monika, 2000. "The political feasibility of pension reform options: the case of Switzerland," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 389-416, March.
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