An important phase of life, retirement is positively viewed by most people, with time for oneself and one’s family, the start of a new, longer and more active era—one of good health if possible, with the rise in life expectancy. But retirement also crystallises anxieties, which are based for the most part on the threat of a decline in income once the working life is over.
In most countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the ageing of the population, together with a low birth rate—and a low rate of immigration—are putting pressure on pension systems and their financial equilibrium. Even in countries with a mainly young population, such as those in the Middle East and North Africa, pension plans are encountering financial difficulties.
Faced with this challenge, major reforms have been initiated over the past twenty years to counteract the long-term financial decline of these systems. The economic and financial crisis has disrupted implementation of these reforms, brutally accelerating the rate of change and fuelling the debate between pay-as-you-go pension schemes and funded pension plans. The retirement question has become central to public policy issues in the areas of budgeting, social affairs and employment.