GERMANY - Around two-thirds (65%) of German salaried employees owned some form of corporate pension last year compared with just half in 2001, according to excerpts of a study seen by IPE.

Broken down, the study said all salaried employees in the public sector had a corporate pension last December 31 compared with only 56% in the private sector. However, these latest figures for the private sector compare with just 38% of employees five years earlier.

This study was produced by research firm TNS Infratest and is closely watched by the government and Germany's corporate pensions industry.

Although the ministry for social affairs has not yet publicised the study, it sent a copy to German insurance industry association GDV.

Impressive growth of corporate pensions in the private sector is a result of the government's 2001 pension reforms when employees gained the right to contribute, on a tax-free basis, up to 4% of salary to a deferred compensation scheme.

That said, the study suggests growth had recently slowed.

"Although corporate pensions grew by 3% annually between 2002 and 2005, growth in 2006 was only 1%," reveals the report.

In an effort to keep corporate pensions attractive, German social affairs minister Franz Müntefering said last month the government would extend the tax exemption for deferred compensation schemes beyond 2008.

This extension fulfils a key demand of German corporate pensions lobby aba, which believes such schemes are crucial in the further spread of the second pillar, especially among smaller firms.

Elsewhere, the study said of the five forms of German corporate pension administration, Pensionskassen  - insurance-type schemes - had, by far, grown fastest. At the end of 2006, the number of salaried employees insured by Pensionskassen totalled near 4.3m - a fourfold increase from five years before.
Regarding the other forms of pension provision, the study showed the number of employees insured by Direktzusagen (book reserve plans) totalled 4.9m at the end of 2006, while the figure for Unterstützungskassen was 4.1m - an increase of 59% from the end of 2001.

Direktversicherungen (direct insurance contracts) insured 4.2m employees at the end of 2006 - virtually unchanged from five years before - while the newer Pensionsfonds (equity-oriented vehicles) added 165,000 employees last year, to bring the total insured to 287,000.