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Old and poor


Why so many Swiss OAPs live below the breadline


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Sixteen percent of people in Switzerland over the age of 65 are classified as poor. (SRF/RTS/Julie Hunt, swissinfo.ch)

That’s according to the pensioner’s group Pro Senectute, and the recently-published Global AgeWatch Index, which draws on data from the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Labour Organization and the Gallup World Poll. 

This is despite that fact that the alpine country has the third highest gross national income per capita in the world. All retired people get a state pension and many also receive occupational pensions. But those who do not often need extra financial help. By the end of 2014, about 193,000 pensioners were receiving supplementary payments to top up their pensions: that’s 12.4% of all people of pensionable age. It’s estimated that every second care home resident receives these top-ups. 

Supplementary payments are meant to keep the wolf from the door. But rents and utility surcharges have gone up by about 20% since 2001, and benefits have not been adjusted accordingly. There is an ongoing discussion in parliament about future pension funding.