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Germany

German think tank calls for employees to work until 70

A German think tank has caused a stir with a suggestion that the country's retirement age could eventually be lifted to 70. But the suggestion has been dismissed by campaigners who have concerns about any rise.

A crowd of older people

The think tank said social trends made the rise inevitable

The Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW) said that the government should consider raising the age for workers to receive pensions to 70.

The group's chief economist, Michael Huether, told the German daily newspaper Rheinische Post on Wednesday that current plans to raise the age to 67 might not go far enough.

"When we look at rising life expectancy and declining birth rates in Germany, a retirement age of 70 must be considered," said Huether.

"We should not stop raising the pension in 2029, but instead continue with it afterwards."

The current position is that pensionable age will rise in monthly steps between 2012 and 2029. Employees currently aged 40 would be the first to have to work until 67.

A man holding a walking stick

There are fears many workers will be physically incapable of working until 70

'Effective cut in pensions'

But political lobby group Sozialverband Deutschland (SoVD) condemned the idea as "summer madness" on Wednesday. Any hike in the pension age from 65 would be unfair at present, said SoVD president Adolf Bauer.

Unemployment and illness force most people out of work before the age of 67, claimed Bauer, meaning that a rise in pension age - even by two years - would be an "effective pension cut."

Social campaign group VdK dismissed the calls for retirement at 70 as "utopian," saying that many workers would be physically incapable of working to such an age.

The center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) has recently called for the planned rise in retirement age to be put on hold, despite helping to put the policy in place in 2006, when it was in coalition with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Author: Richard Connor (AFP/Reuters/dpa)
Editor: Ben Knight

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