The strikes roiling France right now are about government plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and the pension age, which determines when people can begin accessing their pension funds, from 65 to 67. The French government says it can no longer afford the earlier retirement and pension ages.
France is not the only country facing a budget crunch partially because of its generous pension system, coupled with an aging population and a struggling economy. Across Europe, home to many of the world's most generous national pension systems, countries are struggling to afford this staple of the welfare state. Here are five examples.
In Iceland, the average earner gets back 96.5 percent of his average net income (after taxes). There, people become eligible for their pensions at 67 and they are eligible for a full pension after 40 years of residency (payments are proportionally reduced for shorter periods of residency). That comes out to ISK 3.4 million a year (about $49,800 a year), or about 8 percent of the average Icelander's earnings. Pension spending amounts to about 2 percent of the annual GDP. In France, where the government says pension spending is at crisis level, pension spending is 12.4 percent of GDP.
The country is currently facing a mortgage debt crisis, which makes pension funds uncertain because the pension funds hold most of the bonds from Iceland's mortgage debt. While the government has said it wants to write off some of the mortgage debt, pension funds officials have warned that doing so could lead to a cut in pensions, Bloomberg reports.
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