Rogues from school to grave: the economy demands “retirement at 70”

The statutory retirement pension is in need of reform. Economists and business representatives are calling for an increase in the retirement age, which ignores social realities. It could also be otherwise.

Stefan Wolf, president of the employers’ union Gesamtmetall, cut in on the conversation: In the future, people in Germany should not retire before the age of 70, he demanded, prompting a debate.

He received encouragement from neoliberal economists. “The proposal is right and important: because it helps to combat poverty in old age, and it also relieves the pensions that will soon collapse,” explained Bernd Raffelhüschen of the University of Freiburg on Tuesday. The Bild newspaper.

“Wirtschaftswise” Monika Schnitzer signaled their approval. Opposite Funk media group The economics professor from Munich explained: “There are three parameters to safeguard your pension in the future: the retirement age, the amount of the contribution and the amount of the pension.” It is impossible to avoid tightening all three screws if future generations are not to be overloaded.

The move is not unfounded. The pension system in Germany is under pressure, one of the reasons being demographic changes: more and more pensioners have fewer and fewer contributions.

At the same time, people in Germany receive their pension for longer than ever – thanks to a longer service life. The average term of office in 2021 was 21.72 years. Ten years ago it was 18.3 years.

Against this background, Wolf’s suggestion seems understandable – it remains asocial. Because it means that almost one-fifth of paying contributions would not benefit from a retirement pension – they die earlier.

One in five does not reach retirement age

The federal government is aware of this. When asked by the left last year, she replied that 19.8 percent of the dead were under 69 years of age. 17 percent were under 67 and 14.4 percent were under 65.

“The numbers speak plain language: the higher the retirement age, the fewer people can ever enjoy a retirement pension,” commented the figures from social experts on the left, Sabine Zimmermann.

This trend continues with the length of the retirement pension: people with low incomes and heavy burdens live less than “those who are already on the sunny side of life,” according to the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) in 2019.

The DGB then presented a study on the subject. Central Score:

Anyone who has been exposed to high levels of stress in their working lives will die earlier than others. Poor working conditions not only affect immediate well-being, but also have an impact beyond the period of working life – and cause those affected to receive a shorter, and therefore lower, retirement pension.

Farm workers and miners would have particularly little of the retirement pension. By contrast, civil servants in the higher-level service have the highest life expectancy.

But that’s not the only reason for retiring at 70, Verena Bentele, president of the social association, now explained. For many, this is a “pure cut in pensions”.

Increasing the standard retirement age would primarily affect those who are currently working in physically or mentally demanding positions. For this group, the retirement pension at the age of 70 means a pure pension reduction, because today they are struggling to work to the standard retirement age.

Verena Bentele

President of the Federal Social Court with a reform proposal

Statutory Pension Insurance (GRV) needs to be reformed – this is not questioned by social associations. Civil servants and the self-employed should also contribute to the pension fund, as has been requested by the VdK for years.

Recently, president of the Federal Social Court, Rainer Schlegel, called for GRV reform. His ideas partially overlap with those of social associations. On the 1st Bavarian Social Law Day, he recently said that civil servants and the self-employed should also contribute to the pension fund in the future.

“The current dismissal options for dependent workers and insurance exemptions for officials, judges and soldiers are no longer valid,” he argued. Consequently, in the future, all workers, without exception, should pay contributions, including those with marginal part-time employment.

The involvement of the self-employed is necessary to eliminate contradictions in the applicable law. There is no objective justification for the exemption from compulsory insurance. Poverty in old age, dependence on a spouse or partner or dependence on survivors’ pensions are inevitable.

In addition, the new GRV safety target should be defined – in such a way that “any employed person with full job satisfaction can live well on their retirement – a maximum of 40 years of work is realistic”.

However, this proposal is largely ignored in the public debate.
(Bernd Mueller)

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