The Political Feasibility of Increasing the Retirement Age: Lessons from a Ballot on the Female Retirement Age
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In 1998, the Swiss voters approved of an increase in the female retirement age within the public pension system 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 well with predictions drawn from a theoretical model. Young agents, elderly and—to a lesser extent—middle-aged men favor an increase in female retirement age, while middle-aged 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.
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