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Workers and pensioners

The retirement age for men stands at 65, and for women at 64.

A state pension scheme was introduced in 1948, funded by contributions from employers, employees and the state.

Switzerland has a "three pillar" insurance system.

Everyone, whether or not they are working, must make contributions to the first pillar. The central and cantonal governments also participate in financing it. This provides a basic old-age pension, a pension for surviving dependents of a deceased person and an invalidity pension for those unable to work for health reasons.

The second pillar is compulsory only for employed people. Employers pay a contribution for every person they employ, and also deduct the employee's own contribution from his/her salary. The first two pillars together should provide a pension equivalent to around 60% of a retired person's final salary.

The third pillar is optional: it is a savings scheme with tax advantages to provide extra benefits on retirement.

In Switzerland, as in many other developed countries, the number of people working is decreasing while the number of pensioners is growing. This is a cause of concern, since the pensions and care of the elderly are paid for by the social insurance contributions of those in work.

For every retired person, there are now only four people working. In 1900 the proportion was 1:10.

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