NZ has one of least generous pensions in OECD

New Zealand has one of the least generous pensions relative to the working wage, according to research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Retirees in the Netherlands receive more than 100% of their country's average working wage but Kiwi superannuitants get just 43% - ranking it 6th worst equal with Australia.

But it could be worse.

Pensioners in the United Kingdom get just 29% of the average working wage and those living in South Africa, which is not in the OECD, get just 17%.

The average across the OECD was 63%.

Financial Services Council chief executive Richard Klipin said the issue of global pension funding and retirement incomes was a key issue for policy makers, governments and industry.

"The recent OECD report provides some very good insights, and highlights that there is more that we can do to help New Zealanders," Klipin said.

People were living longer and so key issues for policy makers included how to best fund long-term savings (in relation to NZ Super), ensure people created good savings habits, create a tax environment that supported these initiatives, lift consumer literacy and engagement and ensure there were products and services that supported good long-term outcomes.

New Zealand had made good progress with the introduction of KiwiSaver "but there is much more to be done".

The OECD research was part of a wider look at pensions across 35 countries and delves into changes between 2015 and 2017.

It found that the pace of change to pension policy had slowed in recent years as fallout from the global financial crisis had lessened and governments had become richer.

But increasing the retirement age was still on the agenda for many: half of the OECD countries planned to do so in the future, including some that had linked it to rising life expectancy.

Under New Zealand's Labour-led Government the age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation is set to stay at 65.

But the report warned that if greater employment at older age did not happen the ageing population would "generate lower pension levels", reducing well-being during retirement.

"It is therefore essential that efficient complementary labour market policies are put in place to maximise the use of substantial health-related work capacity at older ages in many countries.

"These policies should focus on limiting the impact of job losses, upgrading skills throughout the career, enhancing job quality and removing barriers to retain and hire older workers."

New Zealand has one of the highest levels of over 65s still in the workforce.

And despite New Zealand's pension appearing to be less generous than in other countries, poverty levels remain low.

Just 10.6% of over 65s in New Zealand were considered to be living in poverty compared to the OECD average of 12.5%.

But of those 76 and over, 15% were in poverty compared to 13.9% across the OECD.

Australia, which has a compulsory superannuation scheme, has much higher levels of poverty at 26% of over 65s and 29% of those 76 and over.

Susan St John, director at Auckland University's Retirement Policy and Research Centre, said the report compared apples with oranges as many other countries had contributory systems where people got different amounts depending on how much they put in.

"They don't take into account we have a system that isn't contributory. Everyone gets the same."

St John said the report also only took in account the state's provision, which did not include KiwiSaver or other savings and investments like property.

"You do have to look at the overall picture not just one element."

It was important to have an adequate basic pension to provide protection against poverty and that was the role of a government, she said.

"We have got a very clean simple system that cuts through all the complexity and stops people from falling between the cracks."

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