A penchant for early retirement

Greece has the second highest rate of expenditure on early retirement pensions in the European Union and spends less than most of its other EU partners on disability pensions, according to data published in Brussels yesterday. The EU has repeatedly called on its members to cut down on early retirement, which considerably burdens Europe’s already rickety social security systems. Figures for 2000 (the latest available) released yesterday by Eurostat, the EU statistics service, show that 21.4 percent of all Greek pension expenditure is on early retirement. Only Denmark has a higher rate – 22.6 percent – while the EU average is 4.9 percent. Regular pension payments accounted for 64.5 percent of Greece’s pension expenditure (the EU average was 76 percent) while 7.1 percent went toward disabled people, in an indication of how loath Greek authorities are to approve disability pensions. An estimated 12.5 percent of Greece’s GDP of around 200 billion euros goes toward pension payments, up from 11.3 percent in 1993.