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Survey offers clues to why Swiss rejected last Sunday’s pension reform



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A survey by Tamedia offers clues to why 52.7% of Swiss voters rejected the pension reform plan that was put to a vote last Sunday.

20% of those voting “no” thought it was a pseudo reform that didn’t go far enough, while 26% felt it left too much of a burden on younger taxpayers.

In 1981, when the life expectancy of an average Swiss woman was 79.2 years, the average time spent collecting the state pension was 15.2 years. Now an average Swiss woman can expect 21.3 years of state pension – life expectancy has risen to 85.3 years and the current official retirement age is 64.

This means that since 1981, the expected number of pension years for a Swiss woman has gone up 40%. Pushing the retirement age up to 67 would only bring this period down to 18.3 years, still 3.1 years longer than in 1981.

While people are living longer, not all of the extra lifespan is lived in good health. However, according to the World Health Organisation, an average Swiss woman can expect 21 healthy years from the age of 60, a healthy life span of 81 years, one of the highest in the world. The same figure for men is 18.7 years, an average healthy life span of nearly 79 years.

The survey revealed that while 62% were resigned to the retirement age increasing to 67 years over the next 10 years, only 31% would vote for it.

Hans-Ulrich Bigler, a parliamentarian, member of the PLR/FDP and the director of the Swiss SME Union, told 20 Minuten that he thinks the mentality is changing. People know that sacrifices need to be made to stabilse the system.

Another, Silvia Schenker from the Socialist party, said “People know that one way or another we’ll move to a higher retirement age. But as long as the people need to approve it the increase will not happen quickly.”

Many of the comments on 20 Minutes point out another sticking point: the difficulty of working longer in certain jobs like construction. How could people in these jobs be helped to shift into other fields more suitable for older workers? The reform plan appeared to make no mention of this.

The survey was run from 22 to 24 September. Around 10,000 people across Switzerland responded.

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Le News
The newspaper Le News is a free, quality, local English language newspaper launched on 31 October 2013. Le News fills a gap in local Swiss media for the numerous English-speakers living and visiting Switzerland. In late January 2015 we decided to put our print medium on hold and focus on our digital media presence.
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