GLOBAL - Economic growth is vital in ensuring the future well-being of the elderly not simple policy changes.
In fact improvements in employment rates of older people over the past three years are more likely to have stemmed from buoyant labour markets then public pension reforms.
A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) - ‘Getting older, getting poorer?’ - studies nine of the world’s wealthiest countries, and shows that people over retirement age had achieved a “reasonable level” of economic well-being by the mid-1990s. However, this was threatened by subsequent reforms aimed at cutting public pension costs, particularly moves towards means-tested benefits, explains the report.
The research spans the UK, Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden and the US.
People surveyed were not substantially poorer than people of working age. By the mid-1990s the average disposable income of Italians aged over 65 was 87% of that of the 18-64 age group. This figure was 84% in Sweden and Germany, 80% in Japan, 78% in Finland, 75% in Canada, 74% in the US, 71% in the Netherlands and 63% in the UK. Older women living alone were found to be generally less well-off than if they were living as a couple or with relatives. In some countries widows lose part or all of their husband's pension and do not benefit from the economies of scale enjoyed by larger households.
“An improvement in a country's economic growth is identified as key in ensuring that pension reforms were accompanied by increased well-being for the elderly.
“Only then are there likely to be sufficient job opportunities for older people,” said the study.
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