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Press Statement


11 February 2021

Press Statement Pension Coverage 2020

Outside of State pension 65% of workers have some form of pension cover
  • In Quarter 3 2020, 64.7% of all persons in employment aged between 20 and 69 years had supplementary pension coverage
  • Pension coverage remained lowest among younger workers - 24.4% of workers aged 20 to 24 years had a pension in Quarter 3 2020. Pension coverage was greatest among workers aged 45-54 years where over three quarters of persons in employment (76.8%) had supplementary pension coverage
  • Of those workers with an occupational pension from their current employment, over one third (33.8%) identified their pensions as a ‘defined benefit’ pension while 63.9% had a ‘defined contribution’ pension
  • For those workers with no occupational pension coverage from their current employment, more than half (52.2%) stated that their employer does not offer a pension scheme
  • Of employees with no supplementary pension cover, 35.3% cited affordability as one of the main reasons, while 37% stated that they never got around to organising it. The State Pension was cited as the expected source of income on retirement for 57.6% of workers with no pension coverage, while one in twelve (7.9%) stated that they would rely on savings or investments

Go to release: Pension Coverage 2020

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (11 February 2021) published the results of the Pension Coverage 2020 survey which was carried out in Quarter 3 (July to September) of 2020.

Commenting on the report, Maureen Delamere, Statistician said:

‘Irish life has changed considerably since the introduction of measures in 2020 to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including the closure of many workplaces with related job losses. During the data collection period for this survey in Quarter 3 of 2020, various COVID-19 restrictions were in place. The results in this publication are based on persons in employment and do not cover people who are not in employment or may have been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The results cover pension provision outside of the State pension.

Of persons in employment in Quarter 3 2020, 64.7% had pension coverage of some form (outside of the State pension), an increase of almost five percentage points on the same period in 2019.

Supplementary pension coverage has increased for all age groups, when compared to the third quarter of 2019, but pension coverage in 2020 followed the same trend as in 2019 where pension coverage was lowest among younger workers. Nearly one quarter (24.4%) of workers in the 20 to 24 years age group had pension coverage, while almost half (49.9%) of workers in the 25 to 34 years age cohort had supplementary pension coverage. Supplementary pension coverage increases with age, with almost 73% of the oldest age group surveyed, persons aged 55-69 years having supplementary pension cover. Most supplementary pension cover is with ‘defined contribution’ (64% of pensions) rather than ‘defined benefit’ (34% of pensions).

Analysis of pension coverage by broad occupational groups shows that workers whose occupation was classified as Professionals had the highest pension coverage rate (86.4% of persons working in this area), whereas just over one third (34%) of workers, whose broad occupational group was Sales and customer service, had pension coverage. The NACE economic sector with the highest pension coverage in Quarter 3 2020 was Public administration and defence; compulsory social security (95.8%).

Of employees with no pension cover, 35.3% cited the affordability of pensions as one of the main reasons for not having pension cover, while a further 37% stated they never got around to organising it. At an overall level, workers aged 20 to 69 years (including self-employed and/or assisting relatives) who have no pension coverage, were asked what their expected source of income would be on retirement. The State Pension was cited as the expected source of income on retirement for 57.6% of workers with no pension coverage, while one in twelve (7.9%) stated that they would rely on savings or investments.’

Editor's Note:

Users should note that the mode of data collection for this survey in 2020 has changed since it was last carried out in Quarter 3 2019. A mixed mode data collection model was used in 2019 – both CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal (face to face) Interviewing) and CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing) were used. However, in 2020, the CSO had to suspend direct face-to-face interviews due to the social distancing measures introduced in Ireland because of COVID-19. Consequently, all interviews for this survey were carried out by telephone. Users should note that there does seem to be modal effects in the data as a result of this change in data collection mode.

Also, this survey covers persons in employment so persons who may have been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic are not covered in the survey results. As for the CSO Earnings and Labour Costs publications during the pandemic, it is likely there are compositional effects in the data between 2019 and 2020 also – the composition of the workforce changing in 2020 due to COVID-19. This may have impacted on calculated pension rates.

Also, the COVID-19 pandemic did impact on response to the survey. The achieved sample size for the Q3 2020 survey was 5,130 respondents compared with 7,574 in 2019. Further information is available in the Background Notes.

For further information contact:

Maureen Delamere (+353) 21 453 5081 or Caroline Barrett (+353) 21 453 5485

or email

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