The revision of provision for retirement is faltering. We are getting older and older, and the assets we have saved up will have to last longer. However, because the conversion rate in the occupational pension scheme (BVG) has remained unchanged for years, the calculation no longer adds up and there is always cross-financing from young to old. This is not in line with the idea of Switzerland’s pension system, which is based on three pillars. There is the state pillar (AHV/IV), the occupational pillar (BVG occupational pension) and private pension provision (3a/3b).
The AHV is a classic social insurance scheme to which gainfully employed persons pay contributions. Those who earn more pay in more. However, one does not necessarily receive more in old age, as a maximum pension is fixed under AHV. Thanks to this system, higher earners finance Pillar 1, the pensions of low-income earners. Last year, voters decided to set the AHV retirement age for women and men at 65. Thus, men and women are equal with regard to retirement age. According to the Federal Social Insurance Office, women pay 33 per cent and men 67 per cent of premiums into the AHV pot. On the other hand, women receive 57 per cent of benefits, while men receive 43 per cent. Thus, the common retirement age does not create inequalities between men and women.
Pillar 2, the occupational pension plan (BVG), on the other hand, is not social insurance. Everyone saves for themselves under the BVG. The higher the income, the more capital is saved. The lower level of gainful employment among women therefore has a negative impact on retirement capital under the BVG. In the current political debate on BVG reform, there is currently a dispute in Bern about how women should receive higher pensions. In particular, lower incomes should become insurable so that part-time jobs are covered better. But the idea is controversial. Although more money flows into retirement capital, the bottom line is that employees have less money left in the here and now. In addition, it makes work more expensive because employers would have to pay BVG contributions even for low incomes.
This does not necessarily solve the fundamental problem of low pensions for women. Nor is the problem so much about women’s wages as it is about the choice of family model. While single women today actually receive a slightly higher pension than single men, the situation is different for married women with children.
Most of the time, women take care of raising the children and do not work at all or only in very small stints during these years. In addition, when women return to work, they do not keep up with career development because the childbearing years are usually missed career years. This also means that they often earn less due to their absence from the labour market.
Women should therefore not have to wait for political solutions to improve their personal provision for retirement. Political solutions cannot make up for missing payments into the BVG savings capital. Women have to take care of their own provision for retirement. But it is not only women who are called upon; husbands can also make their contribution.
Family life should be organised in such a way that the wife can also continue to work with the largest possible workload. After all, every franc paid into the BVG is added to one’s own retirement capital with additional employer contributions. During a working life, the conversion rate is not predictable. However, it is possible to influence the amount of capital saved. Those who decide to work only a little when the children are still at home, but are still insured with the employer in Pillar 2, have the option of making voluntary contributions to Pillar 2.
In any case, it is essential to pay into Pillar 3, the private pension provision. In particular, if there is earned income but it is so low that no BVG contributions are required. Payments into Pillar 3a would then still be possible (20 per cent of the net salary). This amount can be deducted from taxable income. Here, husbands also have a duty to think not only about their own private pension provision, but also that of their wives. If men maintain their workload during this phase, the household budget should also include regular payments into Pillar 3 of husband and wife. Those who decide not to work at all until their offspring are out of the house should invest their money elsewhere if possible.