Économie et Statistique n° 441-442 - 2011Pension systems and their reforms; assessments and projections
Adjustments in Pensions by Retirement Age: Basic Guidelines and Changes Since the 1980s
In theory, the introduction of upward or downward adjustments in pensions by retirement age should be guided by one of two principles: either (1) the choice of retirement age will have a neutral impact on the retiree, or (2) the individual choices of retirement age will be neutral for the pension system (marginal actuarial neutrality). Our analysis shows that the second principle should be chosen for both normative and practical reasons. Actuarially neutral pension bonuses and reductions depend on the parameters of the retirement system and on the individual characteristics of the insured. Our estimation concerning the statutory pension system (régime général) for France's private-sector workers shows that-within limits-the current upward or downward adjustments do not diverge significantly from actuarial neutrality. In other words, the successive changes in these upward and downward adjustments in the French system since the early 1980s have caused them to converge toward a neutral scale. However, it should be noted that the current upward and downward adjustments to the basic pension have the distinctive characteristic of being defined on the dual basis of a reference age (65 years before the 2010 reform, called “full-pension age”) and a contribution length. While these variations in the upward and downward adjustments have changed the slope of the benefit schedule by age, the schedule itself has shifted, owing to increases in the required contribution length and, more recently, in the age limits.