Eligibility and indexation for first-tier benefits

The full rates of first-tier pensions are described in the previous indicator, but these levels are only applicable after full eligibility. In most countries with such systems, partial eligibility is achieved after much shorter careers. For example, whilst full entitlement to the contribution-based basic pension is achieved after 40 years in Canada, Japan and Luxembourg, only 10 years of contribution are required for eligibility for a reduced benefit (Figure 3.4). On average across the OECD countries that have contribution-based basic pensions 34 years are required for a full pension and 13 years for initial eligibility. In Czechia 35 years are required for eligibility, with Argentina at 30 years and no other OECD or G20 country requiring more than 15 years. Residence-based basic pensions also have proportionally reduced benefits in many countries but the default assumption for the analysis in this report is full residence irrespective of career breaks.

Likewise for minimum contributory pensions there are different eligibility rules across countries. Minimum contributory pensions are much more widespread than contribution-based basic pensions and more commonly have only one monetary value irrespective of the eligible contribution period, with fewer than half of countries applying higher rates for longer careers of contribution. On average 19 years of contribution are required for eligibility to a minimum contributory pension, with 29 years required on average for the full pension. In France and Switzerland, only one period of contribution is required for a minimum contributory pension, whilst over 40 years are required for the full benefit. In the Slovak Republic, the minimum contributory pension is achieved after 30 years, with no explicit maximum duration. Full minimum pensions are achieved with 25 years of contributions or fewer in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Slovenia, Spain and Türkiye.

Once eligible for a basic, targeted or minimum contributory pension, how they are indexed in payment is one key factor to be effective in the fight against old-age poverty. With current high inflation levels in many countries how and when these benefits are indexed has become more important with many countries having additional discretionary adjustments in the last couple of years (see Chapter 1). If benefits are indexed to wages, as is the case for the basic and safety-net benefits in Denmark, for example, then they will hold their value relative to average wages throughout the retirement period, decreasing future poverty risks and maintaining the relative standard of living of the retiree. However, indexing first-tier benefits to wage growth is rare across OECD countries (Table 3.3). Price indexation is a much more common approach, which means that during normal times of positive real-wage growth, fuelled by productivity gains, the relative value of the benefit tends to decline over time. Beyond benefits already in payment, price indexation also reduces future eligibility thresholds for targeted benefits relative to wages, which is likely to reduce the number of individuals or households that will be initially eligible.

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