Under the measures announced on June 15, in the immediate glowing wake of Russia’s 5:0 football victory over Saudi Arabia, the pensions age is to rise from 60 for men/55 for women to 65 for men/63 for women.
It will be a gradual increase, with the full increase for men only being attained in 2028, and for women in 2034.
The reason why Russia needs to raise its retirement age probably has very little to do with “liberal fifth columnists” and quite a lot more to do with this:
Here’s another good reason: Russian life expectancy has been tracking the High/Optimistic scenario from my demographic model from 2008, and there’s no reason it won’t continue to do so as the Soviet legacy of alcoholization retreats and medical care continues getting better.
Russian life expectancy was 73 years in 2017, exactly matching my optimistic scenario (and I myself was more far more optimistic than the average demographer). Projecting forwards, Russian life expectancy will increase to 75 years by 2020, and 78 years by 2030 (incidentally, the targets Putin set on his inauguration, raising life expectancy to 78 years by 2024, are even more ambitious, if highly unlikely).
Finally, Russia already has the lowest retirement age of any OECD or post-Soviet country (sorry/not sorry to disappoint fans of the [massively Russian subsidized] Belorussian model, but they too are increasing their retirement age).
When Russia’s life expectancy was also a downwards outlier, this was sustainable, but now that it is rapidly going up and converging with the developed world – which, I assume, everyone agrees is a good thing – that is no longer the case.
Here’s another relevant graph (via Felix Keverich):
With pensions spending approaching 9% of GDP, this makes Russian pensions – as a share of GDP – already more generous than those of the OECD average of 8%, and this burden will only increase as life expectancy continues going up. The government plans to increase spending on health (necessary) and education (much more skeptical) to move them closer in line with the OECD average, and the money for that will have to come from somewhere.
Despite this being a plainly necessary policy, no good deed goes unpunished.
Putin has come under attack from an unholy alliance of cynical neoliberal Russophobes, Far Left “Russophiles”, and all manner of populists, demotists, and sovoks.
I mean, I can hardly be called a fan of Putin. But out of all the reasons to attack him these people OF COURSE pick the most idiotic, baseless, and retrograde one.
On the other hand, when you are attacked like this from all sides, it means that you must be doing something right.
Western headlines have hewed to a narrative in which Russia is proposing to raise the retirement age above the life expectancy. Which is both flat out false (Russian life expectancy is 73 years, with men living to 68 – well above their retirement age, even today) and, moreover, irrelevant (what matters is the life expectancy on reaching the retirement age, which was 13 years for men in 2014).
Commenter reiner Tor furthermore makes the point that these journalists tend to support the same policies in their own countries while cynically condemning Russia for doing the same thing:
Anyway, it’s interesting that the Hungarian reform was praised by the same people who are now condemning the Russian one. Similarly, I bet you these very same people would love to cut social security spending in the US or raising the retirement age in any western country. Like they were praising Macron.
There is of course no shortage of people in Russia itself rushing to make hay of the situation, including the cynical hypocrite neoliberal Navalny and the Communist Party, that great champion of the working class (note that the USSR only introduced pensions for collective farm workers in 1965).
Despite Putin’s attempt to shield himself from the pensions reform by portraying it as an initiative of the much less popular Medvedev Cabinet, the first opinion polls coming in show that his approval rating has plummeted by at least 10% points.
Levada: Putin approval rating fell from 79% in May, having held steady at around 80% ever since Crimea, to 65% in June. Although overall figures are still very high, this is a sudden and unprecedented collapse; his all time lowest rating after becoming President in 2000 was 61% in November 2011, which coincided with the large-scale protests in Moscow.
FOM: Putin job approval fell from 75% on June 10, to 69% on June 17; percentage of Russians willing to vote for him fell from 62% on June 10, to 54% on June 17.
Alexander Kireev notes that the collapse in Putin approval ratings was concentrated amongst the middle-aged, with the declines amongst the young (for whom retirement is a long ways off) and the elderly (who are already retired anyway) being much more modest.
Although I am not much in the habit of making moral judgments, I will make an exception here. I really do think this confirms once again the superiority of the young Russian generations over their sovok parents. The latter are materialists to the core, protesting over exclusively materialist things: Monetization of benefits in 2005, now the pensions reform. Perhaps their one saving grace is that their moral weakness, personal cowardice, and apatride attitudes also means they’re only going to whine quietly and not go out to do battle with the police on the streets and march for color revolution. The youth march for things such as free and fair elections, against Internet censorship, against massive corruption in the Kremlin, for the Donbass and Novorossiya, for LGBT rights. While I certainly consider some of these causes to be better and more desirable than others, all of them without exception are infinitely more admirable than this whining about getting their gibsmedats slightly delayed (no matter that they would still have one of the lowest retirement ages in the civilized world).
But perhaps I’m being too harsh. After all, it’s not like raising the retirement age is popular in any country.
Thankfully, many countries – including Russia itself – has safeguards against such demotic idiocy. This is a good thing.