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Friday, 15 September, 2000, 13:16 GMT 14:16 UK
Should the retirement age change?

It's been called the pensions timebomb. Europeans are having fewer children, which means that within a generation there will be fewer workers, whose pay will be taxed to fund more pensions.

What if people work until they are older, extending the years they pay in and putting off the day they begin to take out?

The average retirement age is around 65 for men and women. The lowest in the European Union is 59 for Italian women; the highest is 67 for Danish men and women. Should the state pension age in Europe be raised?

Europe Today's Mark Reid brought together Ursula Engelen-Kefer, Deputy Chair of the German Trade Union Confederation, the DGB, in Berlin; and Political Science Professor Franco Pavoncello of the John Cabot University in Rome.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction


People need to be made to realise that they should take responsibility for their own retirement

Richard N, UK
The current system is unsustainable. People need to be made to realise that they should take responsibility for their own retirement. That means they have to provide funds for their pension. Given the general apathy towards long-term savings, compulsory retirement investment may be the only way forward.
Richard N, UK

Changing the retirement age isn't going to solve Europe's shrinking work force. Immigration will. Europe should put its xenophobic attitude behind and stop straining those hard-working Europeans who deserve to retire.
Afework, USA

I think the retirement age should be increased especially for women due to the fact they live longer. However I also believe that people who wish to work longer should be able to. Let the individual decide.
Jonathan, UK

The current retirement age is simply too high. People are burned out in their jobs due to relentless competition for better jobs and better status. When they retire completely wrecked physically and mentally, many of them never knew what life was or what it could have offered.
Earlier retirement saves everybody from this total wrecking and facilitates them to be fully active people for longer time to come. Indeed to be able to participate in voluntary work and pass the experience to coming generations with some smile still left.
Mikko Toivonen, Finland


I think rather than setting a higher age for retirement, we should start to appreciate all the work which is done by elderly volunteers

Sonya, Germany
There are many retired people who increase their engagement in volunteering for a variety of public services. Some lead youth groups, some do work for clubs and parties, many are helping their children by raising their grandchildren.
I think rather than setting a higher age for retirement, we should start to appreciate all the work which is done by elderly volunteers, which would cost society a lot if it had to pay professionals for it.
Sonya, Germany

Whatever age State Retirement is set at, law clauses that no employer should forcibly retire its workforce due to age should also be made immediately enforceable, so that if any employee wishes to continue working they can do so without loss of rank.
In the large company I work for, retirement age is 60 and there is a gap of 5 years between ceasing employment with that employer until state retirement age. Too often, because they are unable to find re-employment, the employable 50's and 60's age group are forced to rely on state handouts, which further deplete the government's coffers.
Hazel, UK


Government should set the milestones and let the market do the rest

Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK
Let the market decide! One should be eligible for "retirement" benefits/status when one's annual income is "X"% below what it was when you were "Y" age ... "X" and "Y" being government determinates. All other measurements are arbitrary as people "age" (i.e. become less active) at different stages of their life. Government should set the milestones and let the market do the rest.
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK

I'm 22 and can't wait to be finally free, we spend the bulk of our lives trapped by routine, as children by school, as young adults by college/work, surely we deserve to enjoy our final few years in some relative peace and quiet. Take money out of the budget that pays for public art projects like that giant pebble and the millennium dome, then put it into decent pensions.
Michael, Ireland

Europe currently has very high unemployment, so letting people work longer will make this worse. On the other hand, more retired people will put even more pressure on tax resources.
Why doesn't Europe simply stop regulating retirement age and working hours, and let the free market take care of it. Oh, I forgot, this is Europe. No nasty free markets there, eh?
Jon Livesey, USA

Unemployed young persons are more than enough to cover any possible "pensions time-bomb". Perhaps the retirement age should be reduced if it is to change.
Anastasios Pitsounis, Greece

I think the retirement age is normally used by employers to kick out old workers who want to go on working. So why not keep the retirement age as it is but make it voluntary?
William Wild, UK


The retirement age should be raised - People are healthier for longer periods in their life than in recorded history

Morgan O'Conner, USA
The retirement age should be raised. People are healthier for longer periods in their life than in recorded history. Also, in the old days, the concept of retirement didn't exist. Also, why should anyone subsidise me? What did I do for the younger generations to this point in my life, but take up space and pollute the planet? I'm not planning on retiring anyway. I'm gonna rock until I drop.
Morgan O'Conner, USA

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