Majority of Swiss opt for early retirement, says survey

Many Swiss are retiring early, which may be a sign of prosperity or sometimes for health reasons. Keystone

Six people out of ten (58%) stop working before the official retirement age in Switzerland, the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper has reported.

This content was published on June 3, 2018 - 12:54

Only 32% continue to retirement age (65 for men and 64 for women), and 10% carry on working beyond that age, wrote the paper, citing a survey by the Swisscanto pension fund specialist. 

NZZ am Sonntag said the high number of people taking early retirement is rather surprising. The trend goes against current political thinking, which is towards raising the retirement age because of funding problems in the state pension scheme. According to the survey, raising the retirement age to over 65 is likely to continue meeting strong public resistance. 

The survey is based on 535 pension funds or collective foundations with some CHF700 billion ($708 billion) in assets.

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Swisscanto board member René Raths also expressed concern to the newspaper. He says that longer life expectancy means longer retirement, and that in 2035, there will be only 2.3 working people funding one pensioner, compared with nearly 4 at present.

People who retire early do so on average one and a half years before reaching retirement age, which is a sign of prosperity in Switzerland, according to Raths.

There may also be other reasons, the paper pointed out. "We see that there is a considerable proportion of employees over 60 who are worn out and have reached their health limits,” explains Matthias Kuert Killer of the Travail Suisse labour union. He says physical work, such as in the building industry, or stress induced by digitalisation in all sectors, are contributing factors.

While concerns continue over state pension funding, private pension funds have returned to financial health, posting healthy surpluses according to Swisscanto. 

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