Glass half empty or vice versa, retirement age is sometimes hard to swallow. And again, in France, despite the nervous breakdowns around the subject, we are far from being the worst off. All the more reason not to let your guard down, wisely!
1. South Korea
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What can drive South Koreans to work until they are 73 on average when the legal retirement age is only 60? The money of course! Until 1998, the workers’ pension contribution system did not exist in South Korea. Consequence: today most seniors old enough to stop working are forced to continue to toil sometimes beyond 80 years in order to make ends meet. And it’s not likely to work out. By 2030, 25% of Koreans will be over 65! We call it a “grey tsunami”! Bad news for pension funds but also for workers who will probably still have to play extra time.
While Colombian civil servants fare better than their private sector counterparts when it comes time to retire on state-guaranteed funds, 75% of the country’s older people cannot afford to stop working as planned in 62.5 years old. On average, Colombians push the envelope until they are 73 years old before taking advantage of the 2 good years they have left to live if we are to believe the life expectancy in the country (75 years).
The problem in Mexico, as often elsewhere, is that the elderly are living longer and longer, that young people are struggling to find salaried jobs, turning to self-employed activities when they do not choose to try the adventure across the US border. As a result, the number of contributors to the retirement system is plummeting, with Mexicans preferring to put money aside all their lives in anticipation of their old age. Few are seniors and from age 65 as provided by law, because of ridiculously low amount (31% of retirees are absolutely entitled to nothing). To survive, the latter have no choice but to do odd jobs until they are 72 years old on average.
In Japan more than anywhere else work is health! The proof is that it is one of the countries where life expectancy is the highest. No need to eat seaweed and raw fish, it would suffice to go toil at least until the age of 70 on average to live old. As for civil servants, new government measures would aim to raise their retirement age to 80 years. Anyway, the Japanese do not have much choice: the amount of their pension (excluding supplementary) is on average 60% lower than that received by a French person!
Until the election in 2022 of leftist President Gabriel Boric, the Chilean pension system based on individual capitalization models had not changed since the dictatorship under Pinochet (1973-1990). Promising on paper, this system was mainly at the origin of strong inequalities which regularly pushed the Chileans to express their anger in the streets… while continuing to work beyond the legal age fixed at 65 years. On average, it is considered that Chilean retirees until then stopped working around the age of 70. The return to a pay-as-you-go pension, managed by the State, should, as its name suggests, offer more equity… while remaining economically viable. An equation on which many states have broken their teeth!
Good news, Icelanders have the highest life expectancy in Europe. Bad news, they have to contribute longer than anywhere else on the continent! As a result, we retire here on average at 70 (69.8 to be precise), even if it is possible to let go of the controller from 65 with a penalty (less money each month), or at a rate full at age 67.
Retiring in Libya is already a sign that one is alive! And that’s not bad enough in a country plunged into chaos for so many years. To win the cup and receive a few dinars each month as a pension, you still have to reach 70 years… while average life expectancy peaks at 69 years!
8. Costa Rica
A paradise for Western retirees, Costa Rica is much less so when you were born there and worked there all your life. The “Côte Riche” obviously does not benefit everyone since the inhabitants toil here on average for up to 70 years before being able to press pause. If the legal retirement age is set at 65, the amount of pensions is much too low compared to the cost of living (thank you Western immigrants!).
With 22% over 65 and 7% over 80, Italy has the largest proportion of elderly people in its population, just behind Japan. It is also the country where the birth rate is one of the lowest in the world with 43% fewer births each year compared to France. As a result, the pension system has been in the red for more than 10 years and the age to benefit from it has been pushed back to 67 to guarantee the pay-as-you-go system. In Italy too, la bella vita will have to wait!
10. The Netherlands
Currently the statutory retirement age in the Netherlands is 67 for both men and women. But from 2026, it could increase because age is indexed (66%) to life expectancy. To put it simply, if over one year, the Dutch gained 3 months of life expectancy, the legal retirement age would then be automatically pushed back by 2 months (evening 66% therefore). Logical but cruel…