DP2780 | The Political Feasibility of Increasing Retirement Age: Lessons from a Ballot on Female Retirement Age

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24/04/2001

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Abstract

In 1998, the Swiss voters approved of an increase in female retirement age from 62 to 64. The referendum, being on a single issue only, offers a unique opportunity to explore the political feasibility of pension reforms and to apply theoretical models of life-cycle decision making. Estimates carried out with municipality data suggest that the outcome of the vote conforms relatively well with predictions drawn from a theoretical simulation study. There are, however, surprising gender differences even in married couples. Young agents, married middle-aged and all elderly men favour an increase in female retirement age, while middle-aged and elderly women strongly oppose it. Richer communities and those with a high proportion of self-employed or a low fraction of blue-collar workers are more likely to opt for a higher retirement age. Ideological preferences and regional differences also play a considerable role.