Russian chief suggests raising retirement age

RUSSIA - Russian Pension Fund Chairman Gennady Batanov has sparked controversy by suggesting an increase of the retirement age by a maximum of five years.

According to Russian press reports, Batanov argued he did not rule out the possibility pointing out that many countries are gradually increasing the retirement age.

The press has been quick to point out that the average life expectancy for men is 59 years and currently most men retire at 60. Women tend to retire at 55.

Lawmakers, including the Duma’s deputy speaker Artur Chilingarov, said the issue of raising the retirement age should be carefully analysed as it regarded more aspects than just economy.

The chairman of the Committee on Constitutional legislation and State Development, Vladimir Pligin, also stressed life expectancy was low. “One should see if we live up to retirement age,” Pligin was quoted as saying

Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov, however, dampened the fire telling the press the government was not considering increasing the pension age.

Professor Elsa Fornero, an economist who has written a World Bank-sponsored report on Russia, said: “ Five years sounds a little too much and raising the pension age is a neither an easy measure nor a socially painless one.”

She explained that life expectancy had fallen all over the region as a result of political change - hitting old people hard.

Russia has developed a high mortality rate among adult males, but those who live tend to do so for nearly as long as in other North Eastern countries.

Fornero said it was difficult to give an average estimate but added that in Latvia and the other Baltic republics the average expectancy was 62-63.

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