BERN, SWITZERLAND – A demographics study on retirement trends carried out for the Swiss Federal Social Insurance Office shows that a tendency towards taking early retirement is ending and people are working longer, in particular if the work conditions are amenable.
But while there appears to be interest in working after the official retirement age, few Swiss companies have policies or programmes that encourage this.
The report concludes that older workers will play a “decisive role in meeting the challenges of the demographic evolution” in the next few years, as older people begin to represent a larger part of the population.
“Encouraging employment of seniors is a good way to prevent the labour shortage that will be appearing and to ensure long-term financing of old-age benefits”, the office says in a statement issued 8 October.
The information in the report becomes part of a larger package of data that will be used to make decisions about reforming the benefits programme, which will rapidly run out of money after 2020 if steps are not taken now, the government argues.
The study is based on interviews with close to 1,300 people, ages 58 to 69, and some 2,000 companies, as well as a number of documents.
It shows that one in five people under age 64 or 65 intend to work past their official retirement age. The average age of retirement from 2008 to 2011 was 62.6 for women and 64.1 for men, and both are rising. Switzerland ranks high, with Norway and Sweden, for a relatively high average retirement age.
The reasons given for wanting to work longer are often tied to and dependent on health, with the attraction of additional income given less weight than interesting work, flexible hours, a pleasant environment and recognition for the work by the employer.
Most employers and employees view favourably more relaxed laws about working longer, raising the retirement age, but also aligning AVS (retirement benefits) with companies’ official retirement ages.