Supplementary Pensions and the Income of Ireland’s Retirees

November 29, 2012

Authors: Sanna Nivakoski , Alan Barrett

The objective of this report is to explore (a) the incomes of retirees in Ireland and (b) the distribution of supplementary pensions among them, although clearly there is a close relationship between (a) and (b). Our focus is on retirees and not on the full population of those aged 65 and over. For this reason, the analysis focuses on (a) men who are now retired but who have worked for at least fifteen years and (b) women who are now retired but who have worked for at least ten years. We find that the average income of male retirees is 58 per cent higher than that of female retirees. Much of this difference is driven by the fact that about half of the male retirees have supplementary pension compared to about a third of female retirees. In the case of both genders, factors such as education and having been a public sector worker are associated with having supplementary pensions. Career continuity matters for both genders too but in slightly different ways. For men, longer tenure with the same employer is important in determining the access to a supplementary pension but for women total work experience across all employers matters. The analysis suggests that any universal cut in the State pension would be regressive because the incomes of lower income groups would be disproportionately reduced.

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