More than half in Europe fear old age poverty

Four out of five Europeans (79%) accept they need to save more to maintain their standard of living in retirement, with more than two-thirds (69%) saying they fear poverty in old age, according to a survey by pollsters YouGov. Seventy-eight per cent worry whether their national government will be able to pay their pension in later years, and only 28% felt the state would provide an adequate pension.

The poll, for German fund managers' association Bundesverband Investment und Asset Management (BVI), shows significant differences between the 11 European countries polled. Respondents in Southern Europe were particularly worried, with those from Portugal (94%), Italy (92%), Greece (91%), and Spain (81%), all significantly concerned about the government’s ability to pay pensions. The French (84%) were also anxious.

Norwegian, Dutch, Austrian, Swiss, British, and German respondents were all less worried about pension provision.

Commenting on the findings, Allianz Global Investors head of pensions Andreas Hilka said: “These countries have already reformed their pension systems to a large extent and consequently have an above-average performance on the AllianzGI Pension Sustainability Index. This indicates that reforms such as a strengthening of corporate and private pension schemes alongside the retirement age increase have had positive effects on public confidence when it comes to the old-age provision.”

Despite this, over half the respondents in every country bar Norway said they were worried about poverty in old age.

“There is still a need for further reforms which usually go along with a reduction of defined benefits, meaning that every individual is to take on more risk concerning longevity and the capital markets,” Hilka said.

When asked how they would use an extra €100 a month, less than one in five (18%) said they would invest in private pensions. According to the survey, high returns are relatively unimportant to potential investors when it comes to savings and investments – ranking very or extremely important for only 40%. Security (81%), understanding (79%), and low costs (71%), were the most important factors.

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