Net pension replacement rates

The previous indicator of the “Tax treatment of pensions and pensioners” showed the important role that the personal tax and social security contribution systems play in old-age income support. Pensioners often only pay health contributions and receive preferential treatment under the income tax. Tax expenditures and the progressivity of income taxes coupled with gross replacement rates of less than 100% also mean that pensioners have a lower income tax rate than workers. As a result, net replacement rates are generally higher than gross replacement rates.

For average earners, the net replacement rate across the OECD averages 62% for mandatory schemes, from a low of under 35% in Estonia and Lithuania to a high of 103% in Turkey and over 90% in Hungary and Portugal. Moreover, the pattern of replacement rates across countries is different on a net rather than a gross basis.

On average, for average earners, the net replacement rate is 10 percentage points higher than the gross replacement rate. The difference is 30 percentage points in Hungary and Turkey and around 15-25 percentage points in Belgium, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Portugal, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia. In Hungary, the Slovak Republic and Turkey, pension income is neither liable for taxes or social security contributions, whilst in Belgium and Portugal they are much lower because of either higher tax allowances or much lower contribution levels.

For low earners, the effect of taxes and contributions on net replacement rates is slightly more muted than for workers higher up the earnings scale. This is because low-income workers typically pay less in taxes and contributions relative to average earners. In many cases, their retirement incomes are below the level of the standard reliefs in the personal income tax (allowances, credits, etc.). Thus, they are often unable to benefit fully from any additional concessions granted to pensions or pensioners under their personal income tax.

The difference between gross and net replacement rates for low earners is 10 percentage points on average. The Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia and Turkey have much higher replacement rates for low earners on a net basis than in gross terms. The net replacement rate for workers earning 200% of the average is highest in Turkey. The lowest replacement rates for high earners are found in Canada, Estonia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, New Zealand and Switzerland where workers earning 200% of the average will receive net pensions that amount to less than one-third of their net earnings when working. In addition to the higher contribution levels in the occupational system for higher earners in Sweden, the net replacement rates are furthermore affected by the fact that pension income and work income are taxed differently and at different rates.

For non-OECD countries, there is very little variation in net replacement rates within countries across the earnings range. However, there is considerable difference between countries, ranging from 16% for average earners in South Africa to 97% in Brazil.

The net replacement rate is defined as the individual net pension entitlement divided by net pre-retirement earnings, taking account of personal income taxes and social security contributions paid by workers and pensioners. Otherwise, the definition and measurement of the net replacement rates are the same as for the gross replacement rate. Details of the rules that national tax systems apply to pensioners can be found in the online Country Profiles available at

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2021

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at