Germany

Raising Germany's Retirement Age Still Won't Avert Pension Time Bomb

A new demography study shows that the much ballyhooed rise in the retirement age to 67 simply delays the hard questions about how to finance pensions as Germany's population ages.

The weight of old age (MrTopf)
The weight of old age (MrTopf)
Philipp Neumann

BERLIN - By 2030, retirement age in Germany will be 67. The new law has been in effect since January, and has Germans working progressively longer. Anyone born in 1947 and still working will have to work one month longer, while those born after 1964 will have to work the full two years longer before they can retire.

But the story doesn't end there. According to calculations by the Wiesbaden-based Federal Office for Population Research (BiB), due to higher life expectancy, retirement at 67 will soon cease to be an effective means of financing the pension system: people who get older and older need their pensions for that much longer, and this also applies if they stop working at age 67.

So by 2030, when the full transition has been made, the question will again pose itself: how can pension payments for older workers be financed from what younger workers are paying in?

According to Stephan Kühntopf of the BIB, moving the age up to 67 will work – but only for 18 years. "If you do the math, a retirement age of 67 is just an intermediary step before further reforms will be needed in 10 to 15 years time," he says.

According to BIB figures, a man born in 1946 who retires at 65 requires an average of 18.8 years of pension payments. For women the figure is 22.2 years because women have a longer life expectancy.

A retirement age of 67 reduces the number of years by an average of a quarter year to 18.5 and 21.9 respectively. But those born after 1964 can expect to need payments longer because they can be expected to live longer than previous generations. By way of comparison: men born in 1910 received payments for an average of 13.5 years, and women 17.8 years.

Such figures are grist for the mill of economists like Michael Hüther, director of the employer-friendly Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW). They show, he says, that moving the retirement age to 67 "was more than justified."

The magic number?

Hüther too sees a retirement age of 67 as just an intermediary step, and believes that the time has come to seriously consider the retirement age he supports – 70. Doing so can no longer be seen as entertaining "scenarios of intimidation," he says: 70 represents a "fair contribution for future generations of pensioners' to stabilizing the system. "Which is why after 2029, when a retirement age of 67 is fully implemented, we need to keep it up and quickly move the age up even further," Hüther argues.

A spokeswoman for Minister of Labor Ursula von der Leyen said that raising the retirement age to 67 was a necessary step to stabilize the financing of pensions, and that the change wasn't only to be seen in the context of increased life expectancy. Also playing an "important role" was the number of people who would be able to go on working, and the overall situation on the jobs market.

The Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) agrees with that with one notable exception: it is against a retirement age of 67.

Ingo Nürnberger of the DGB doesn't doubt the reliability of the new figures relating to a retirement age of 67 but says: "The decisive question now as before is whether or not there will be jobs for people until they are 67. Right now your chances of getting hired if you're older are under average, so what you're really talking about here is people getting less pension." Only one in four people over 60 years old currently has a full time job, he added.

Nürnberger believes the longer retirement periods due to longer life expectancy can eventually be financed if chances for older people to find jobs were to improve.

Read the article in German in Die Welt.

Photo - MrTopf

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Pro-life and Pro-abortion Rights Protests in Washington

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Håfa adai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where new Omicron findings arrive from South Africa, abortion rights are at risk at the U.S. Supreme Court and Tyrannosaurus rex has got some new competition. From Germany, we share the story of a landmark pharmacy turned sex toy museum.

[*Chamorro - Guam]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• COVID update: South Africa reports a higher rate of reinfections from the Omicron variant than has been registered with the Beta and Delta variants, though researchers await further findings on the effects of the new strain. Meanwhile, the UK approves the use of a monoclonal therapy, known as sotrovimab, to treat those at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.The approval comes as the British pharmaceutical company, GSK, separately announced the treatment has shown to “retain activity” against the Omicron variant. Down under, New Zealand’s reopening, slated for tomorrow is being criticized as posing risks to its under-vaccinated indigenous Maori.

• Supreme Court poised to gut abortion rights: The U.S. Supreme Court signaled a willingness to accept a Republican-backed Mississippi law that would bar abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest. A ruling, expected in June, may see millions of women lose abortion access, 50 years after it was recognized as a constitutional right in the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

• Macri charged in Argentine spying case: Argentina’s former president Mauricio Macri has been charged with ordering the secret services to spy on the family members of 44 sailors who died in a navy submarine sinking in 2017. The charge carries a sentence of three to ten years in prison. Macri, now an opposition leader, says the charges are politically motivated.

• WTA suspends China tournaments over Peng Shuai: The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) announced the immediate suspension of all tournaments in China due to concerns about the well-being of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, and the safety of other players. Peng disappeared from public view after accusing a top Chinese official of sexual assault.

• Michigan school shooting suspect to be charged as an adult: The 15-year-old student accused of killing four of his classmates and wounding seven other people in a Michigan High School will face charges of terrorism and first-degree murder. Authorities say the suspect had described wanting to attack the school in cellphone videos and a journal.

• Turkey replaces finance minister amid economic turmoil: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan appointed a strong supporter of his low-interest rate drive, Nureddin Nebati, as Turkey’s new finance minister.

• A battle axe for a tail: Chilean researchers announced the discovery of a newly identified dinosaur species with a completely unique feature from any other creatures that lived at that time: a flat, weaponized tail resembling a battle axe.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

South Korean daily Joong-ang Ilbo reports on the discovery of five Omicron cases in South Korea. The Asian nation has broken its daily record for overall coronavirus infections for a second day in a row with more than 5,200 new cases. The variant cases were linked to arrivals from Nigeria and prompted the government to tighten border controls.


#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

¥10,000

In the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, a reward of 10,000 yuan ($1,570) will be given to anyone who volunteers to take a COVID-19 test and get a positive result, local authorities announced on Thursday on the social network app WeChat.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Why an iconic pharmacy is turning into a sex toy museum

The "New Pharmacy" was famous throughout the St. Pauli district of Hamburg for its history and its long-serving owner. Now the owner’s daughter is transforming it into a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys, linking it with the past "curing" purpose of the shop, reports Eva Eusterhus in German daily Die Welt.

💊 The story begins in autumn 2018, when 83-year-old Regis Genger stood at the counter of her pharmacy and realized that the time had come for her to retire. At least that is the first thing her daughter Anna Genger tells us when we meet, describing the turning point that has also shaped her life and that of her business partner Bianca Müllner. The two women want to create something new here, something that reflects the pharmacy's history and Hamburg's eclectic St. Pauli quarter (it houses both a red light district and the iconic Reeperbahn entertainment area) as well as their own interests.

🚨 Over the last few months, the pharmacy has been transformed into L'Apotheque, a venture that brings together art and business in St. Pauli's red light district. The back rooms will be used for art exhibitions, while the old pharmacy space will house a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys. Genger and Müllner want to show that desire has always existed and that people have always found inventive ways of maximizing pleasure, even in times when self-gratification was seen as unnatural and immoral, as a cause of deformities.

🏩 Genger and Müllner want the museum to show how the history of desire has changed over time. The art exhibitions, which will also center on the themes of physicality and sexuality, are intended to complement the exhibits. They are planning to put on window displays to give passers-by a taste of what is to come, for example, British artist Bronwen Parker-Rhodes's film Lovers, which offers a portrait of sex workers during lockdown.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them. Never.

— U.S. actor Alec Baldwin spoke to ABC News, his first interview since the accident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust last October. The actor said that although he was holding the gun he didn’t pull the trigger, adding that the bullet “wasn't even supposed to be on the property.”

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

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