A statement last week from the Statistics Estonia director on what pension age would be fiscally sustainable for Estonia 50 years from now has been used by Social Democrat MP Eiki Nestor to champion his party's initiative to let people choose their own retirement age.
At the release of the statistics yearbook on Thursday, Statistics Estonia head Andres Oopkaup pegged the break-even point at 76 in the year 2060. He noted that Estonia had seen the greatest rise in life expectancy in the EU between the last two censuses, and that as of January, pensioners made up 31.8 percent of the population.
Finance Minister Jürgen Ligi weighed in yesterday as well, saying that "it is indeed worth getting used to the fact that the pension age cannot stand still, due to the longer life expectancy and dwindling number of children."
Nestor said there was no point in such thought experiments, telling uudised.err.ee: "I think it will become apparent in the next five years that the term 'pension age' has a completely different meaning to the one it has today. The pension age will not have a definite age as a the cutoff, such as 63 or 65, but rather people will decide themselves when they go on pension depending on their health, preferences and possibilities on the job market.
"The Social Democrats made a proposal several years ago to give people at a certain age five years to decide when to retire," said Nestor. "People are very different at 60 - their capacity for work is different as is their health and possibilities of finding suitable work. Some people are no longer capable of working, others work happily to an advanced age."
He said Sweden and Finland had taken steps toward a flexible pension age. "It is high time for Estonia to move toward such progressive solutions as well," Nestor said.
Nestor also commented on emigration, saying that much had been left undone in that field due to political shortsightedness. "If the state started paying children effective support after the first 18 months of life, and made it possible for all who so wish to get a spot in a nursery school, the birth rate would rise and young families would stay in Estonia."