Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Israel Debates Raising Retirement Age for Women

Although not yet officially released, Israel's Finance Ministry Committee on Female Retirement Age is expected to recommend raising the retirement age for women from 62 to 67, and not to 64, to the same as men, and opposition is coming from many quarters. According to an article in Haaretz, there is widespread opposition in the Knesset, which must approve any changes. In addition, both Talia Livni, president of the Na'amat women's organization, and a representative of the Histadrut labor federation, quit the public committee after the issue turned to raising the age to 67 instead of the original 64 when the the committee was appointed.

An editorial in the Jerusalem Post acknowledges that, since improved medicine and higher living standards are leading to rising life expectancies and an increasingly older population, the recommendation sounds reasonable enough. However, it stated that before the retirement age is raised for women, steps should be taken to ensure more women enter the work force and stay employed longer. Among other things, the Post noted that just 62.2% of women aged 55 to 59, and 6.5% of women aged 65 or older, participated in the job market in 2009, compared to 76.7% and 17.8%, respectively, of men.
Unlike in Europe, where dwindling birth rates, combined with higher life expectancy, has resulted in an increasingly older population, Israel’s balance between young and old is even. Israelis over the age of 65 make up just 9.8% of the population, compared to an OECD average of 14.6%. As a result, the need to raise the retirement age is less pressing here.

We are, nevertheless, outpacing the OECD in the speed at which we are raising the retirement age for women. The average retirement age for women in OECD countries will reach 64 after 2030. If the Treasury has its way, this will happen here in 2017.
Sources: Haaretz (July 1, 2011); Jerusalem Post "A fairer retirement for the fairer sex" (July 5, 2011)

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