The CSO is required, under Regulation (EU) No 549/2013 on the European system of national and regional accounts in the European Union, to compile a supplementary table on accrued-to-date pension entitlements in social insurance (Table 29). Transmission of this table to Eurostat for reference year 2015 was required by December 31, 2017. Updates are required at three year intervals thereafter.
This section describes in more detail the types of pension schemes covered in the pensions table, but it is important to first distinguish between pension benefits and other social benefits, as defined in National Accounts.
Pensions can be provided to beneficiaries in the form of: 1) social insurance pension schemes; 2) social assistance; and 3) individual insurance policies or savings plans related to pensions. Social insurance, which covers employment related and social security schemes, is the predominant form of pension scheme in EU countries and in the case of Ireland this includes employment related pension schemes1 and non-means tested state pension schemes.2
In contrast to social insurance benefits, social assistance benefits are payable without contributions having been made to a social insurance scheme and are therefore outside the scope of this publication. In Ireland these schemes are means-tested, such as the State Pension (Non-contributory).
Individual pension plans or savings plans related to pensions - Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs) and Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs) - are mainly treated as life insurance in the National Accounts and are also outside the scope of this publication.
Figure 6.1 illustrates the pension related benefits included. The cells which appear as BLUE are within the scope of the pensions table and those appearing in GREY are outside the scope and excluded.
The Eurostat table on pension entitlements was designed to record the various pension systems which exist in EU countries and categorise those using the following criteria:
• Which institutional sector is managing the pension scheme – the private sector (columns A to C) or general government (columns D to H)?
• Is the pension scheme defined contribution (columns A and D) or defined benefit (columns B, E, F and G)?
• Is the pension scheme recorded in the standard national accounts? Funded schemes are recorded in the core national accounts (columns A to F) while unfunded schemes will not be in the core national accounts and will appear in the Table (columns G and H).
|Table 6.1 Columns of the Eurostat supplementary table on pension entitlements|
|Recorded in Standard National Accounts||Not in Standard National Accounts|
|Funded pension schemes||Unfunded (pay-as-you-go) schemes|
|Non-government managed (private)||Government managed|
|Occupational defined contribution schemes||Occupational defined benefit schemes1||Total||Defined contribution schemes||Defined benefit schemes for general government employees||Social security pension schemes|
|Funded schemes classified in financial corporations||Funded schemes classified in general government||Unfunded schemes classified in general government|
|1Column B includes other non-defined contribution schemes, often described as hybrid schemes which have both a defined benefit and defined contribution.|
In the case of Ireland the relevant columns are recorded as follows:
• Columns A to C: Funded, privately managed occupational defined contribution and defined benefit schemes. These schemes are included in the core national accounts and in the pensions table.
• Column G: Unfunded, government-managed occupational defined benefit schemes for government employees. These schemes are not recorded in the core national accounts and will only appear in the pensions table.
• Column H: Pay-as-you-go, government-managed state pension benefits (excluding means-tested pension-related benefits). These schemes do not appear in the core national accounts and will only appear in the pensions table.
• Note that Columns D, E and F are not applicable to the Irish pension system and are therefore blank.
|Table 6.2 Summary of table columns applicable to the Irish pension system|
|Column A||Column B||Column G||Column H|
|Scope||Defined Contribution occupational pension schemes||Defined Benefit occupational pension schemes Includes Commercial Semi States||Defined Benefit occupational pensions of public service workers • Civil Service • Defence • Education • Health • Justice • Local Authorities • Non-Commercial State Agencies (NCSAs)||Social Security pension schemes • State Pension (Contributory) • Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory) • Invalidity Pension|
|Exclusions (outside the scope of the table)||Excludes personal savings plans such as PRSAs and RACs||Excludes those schemes not subject to the Minimum Funding Standard (MFS)||Excludes the state pension liability of ‘integrated’1 public service employees (included in Column H)||Excludes pension related means tested benefits: • State Pension (Non-Contributory) • Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Non-Contributory)|
|Included in the core national accounts||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|1Post-1995 public service workers who pay full PRSI are eligible for the State Pension (Contributory). Therefore that portion of their pension entitlement comes from the Social Insurance Fund and appears as a liability of Column H.|
It is important to note that the liability which has accrued in respect of state pensions for those public servants whose occupational and state pensions are integrated, appears in Column H. It is presented in this way due to the column classification for Columns G and H.
The rows in the pensions table contain a reconciliation between the opening pension liability at the beginning of a period and the closing liability at the end of a period. All transactions and other economic flows which lead to changes in the opening and the closing liability within a given period are taken into account.
|Table 6.3 Rows of the pensions table|
|Opening balance sheet|
|1||Pension entitlements (accrued-to-date liability) at the beginning of the reference year|
|Changes in pension entitlements due to transactions|
|2||Increase in pension entitlements due to social contributions1|
|2.1||Employer actual social contributions|
|2.2||Employer imputed social contributions|
|2.3||Household actual social contributions|
|2.4||Household social contribution supplements|
|2.5||Less: pension scheme service charges|
|3||Other (actuarial) change of pension entitlements in social security pension schemes|
|4||Reduction in pension entitlements due to payment of pension benefits|
|5||Changes in pension entitlements due to social contributions and pension benefits2|
|6||Transfers of pension entitlements between schemes|
|7||Change in entitlements due to negotiated changes in scheme structure|
|Changes in pension entitlements due to other flows|
|8||Changes in entitlements due to revaluations|
|9||Changes in entitlements due to other changes in volume|
|Closing balance sheet|
|10||Pension entitlements (accrued-to-date liability) at the end of the reference year3|
|1Sum (Row 2.1 to Row 2.4) - Row 2.5|
|2Row 2 + Row 3 - Row 4|
|3Row 1 + Sum (Rows 5 to 9)|
Pension entitlements (accrued-to-date liability) - Row 1: This is the accrued-to-date liability (ADL) estimated at the beginning of the period and is identical with the closing stock of the previous year. For defined contribution schemes this equates to the value of the underlying assets of the pension fund. For defined benefit schemes actuarial calculations are required to estimate liabilities. Actuarial methods involve modelling based on assumptions and for government-managed pension schemes these assumptions have been prescribed in the Eurostat Technical Guide3 to ensure consistency across schemes and comparability across EU countries.
Employer and employee actual social contributions - Rows 2.1 and 2.3: These rows contain the value of contributions paid by employers and employees during the period.
Employer imputed social contributions - Row 2.2: This is calculated as balancing items in Columns B and G and therefore any changes in pension entitlements over the year, not included in the other rows, are captured here. This row also covers any ‘experience effects’ where the observed outcome of pension modelling assumptions (real wage growth rate, discount rate, etc.) differs from the levels assumed. By definition, there are no entries in this row for defined contribution schemes.
Household social contributions supplements - Row 2.4: For defined contribution pension schemes, Row 2.4 denotes interest earned on assets, i.e. the investment income during the period. For defined benefit schemes, the discount rate is the rate used to convert future payments into a ‘present value’ at a particular date. In the case of pensions, there is a stream of payments for many years into the future which are discounted to calculate the present value. There is an effect therefore each year of the discount unwinding as those future payment streams come one year closer to falling due and being paid. This reduction in the discounting period results in an increase in the net present value which is recorded in Row 2.4. This row relates to the property income earned on the schemes and for all defined benefit pension schemes, including social security schemes, property income is equivalent to the unwinding of the discount rate meaning that its value is equal to the discount rate times the pension entitlements at the beginning of the accounting period. For further information on the discount rate and the calculation of Row 2.4 for Column B, see the section below on Assumptions.
Pension scheme service charges - Row 2.5: This row records the cost of running the pension schemes. Eurostat’s guidance in relation to government-managed schemes is that a zero should be entered if the costs are financed through sources such as general taxation. The service charge for the Social Insurance Fund is deemed payable out of contributions receipts (unless there is a shortfall of social insurance contributions to expenditure in which case a subvention is paid). Therefore the service charge is recorded for Column H.
Other (actuarial) change of entitlements in social security pension schemes – Row 3: This is calculated as a balancing item in Column H and therefore any changes in pension entitlements over the year, not included in the other rows of this column, are captured here. It should be noted that, for social security pension schemes, ‘experience effects’ are also recorded in Row 3.
Reduction of pension entitlements due to payment of pension benefits - Row 4: This shows the payment of pension benefits during the period.
Changes in pension entitlements due to social contributions and pension benefits – Row 5: This is a formula calculated as (sum (Rows 2.1 - 2.4) - Row 2.5 + Row 3 – Row 4).
Transfers of pension entitlements between schemes - Row 6: This shows the transfers of pension entitlements between schemes.
Change in entitlements due to negotiated changes in scheme structure - Row 7: This contains an estimate of changes in past service cost due to legislation enacted during the year in question. These reforms might be a change in the retirement age, the indexation rules or the benefit formula or it may be a shift from a defined benefit scheme to a defined contribution scheme. It is important to underline that two criteria must exist in order to classify to this row: 1) the reform must be enacted and 2) the reform must be negotiated and agreed upon by all parties involved4.
Changes in entitlements due to revaluations - Row 8: This shows any changes in entitlements due to changes in the financial assumptions - the discount rate, the wage rate and the inflation rate, or in the case of defined contribution schemes it includes market price changes.
Changes in entitlements due to other changes in volume - Row 9: This shows changes in entitlements due to changes in other model assumptions such as life expectancy. This row may also include non-negotiated reforms which do not appear in Row 7.
Pension entitlements (accrued-to-date liability) – Row 10: This is the accrued-to-date liability (ADL) estimated at the end of the period. As stated in Row 1 above, for defined contribution schemes this equates to the value of the underlying assets of the pension fund. For defined benefit schemes actuarial calculations are required to estimate the liabilities.
The accrued-to-date liability (ADL) is calculated on an actuarial basis for defined benefit pension schemes including those in the private sector (Column B), public service schemes (Column G) and state pension schemes (Column H).
In its Technical Guide, Eurostat sets out prescribed assumptions to be used and approach to be taken in deriving the actuarial estimates in order to maintain consistency across pension schemes and comparability across countries.
The discount rate is the rate used to convert future payments into a ‘present value’ at a particular date. In the case of pensions, there is a stream of payments for many years into the future which are discounted to calculate the present value.
As the ADL is calculated in present value terms, a suitable discount rate needs to be chosen in order to calculate the current value of future payments of pension benefits. The discount rate is one of the most crucial assumptions since the accumulated impact of the rate chosen to discount back projected cash-flows over a prolonged period is very high. For example, a reduction in the discount rate of 1% could result in a 25% increase in the value of the ADL. The impact of a +/-1% change in the discount rate used for government-managed schemes in Columns G and H can be seen in the sensitivity analysis in Chapter 4.
The Eurostat Technical Guide recommends that, for government-managed pension schemes, the discount rate is set at 3% in real terms and 5% in nominal terms. It is generally agreed that central government debt securities provide a suitable basis for the discount rate. At the time of setting and agreeing the assumptions to be used, a real discount rate of 3% corresponded closely to interest rate of euro government bonds. The Ageing Working Group (AWG) also agreed with Members States a real discount rate of 3% p.a. for its long-term projections.5
Although the Guide recommends that the choice of discount rate should be reviewed regularly, and despite discussions at the Eurostat Working Group on Pensions, no change was made to the Guide to reduce the recommended choice of discount rate for the 2015 estimate. This will be considered for future versions of the pensions table and estimates of the ADL.
Table 6.4 summarises the approach and assumptions used in compiling the estimates for Irish pension obligations. A nominal discount rate of 5% was applied to the actuarial calculations which appear in Columns G and H. For Column B, the Funding Standard values reported in the Annual Actuarial Data Return (AADR) are calculated in accordance with prescribed guidance issued by the Society of Actuaries in Ireland and guidance issued by the Pensions Authority.
It is worth noting that in relation to the discount rate for Column B, details of scheme-specific discount rates were not available on the AADR and an assumption had to be made on the average discount rate applied in the calculation of the ADL in order to estimate the value of the Household Social Contribution Supplements (Column B, Row 2.4). This row relates to the property income earned on the schemes. For all defined benefit pension schemes covered in Column B, property income is equivalent to the unwinding of the discount rate, meaning that its value is equal to the discount rate times the pension entitlements at the beginning of the accounting period.
The average ‘representative’ discount rate was calculated using the actuarial liability weighted by type - active, deferred and pensioner - and applying the relevant discount rate/annuity rate to each category. The result is an estimated overall nominal discount rate of 3.6% for defined benefit schemes appearing in Column B.
|Table 6.4 Summary of actuarial assumptions used to estimate the liabilities of defined benefit schemes|
|Table Column||B: Defined Benefit funded occupational pension schemes||G: Defined Benefit occupational pensions of public service workers||H: Social Security pension schemes|
|Source||Pensions Authority defined benefit AADR data||D/PER Actuarial Review of Public Service Pensions||DEASP Actuarial Review of the Social Insurance Fund|
|Accrued-to-Date Liability||Yes||Yes (general increase in wages taken into account)||Yes|
|Projected Benefit Obligation (PBO)||Accumulated Benefit Obligations (ABO) approach||Yes (general increase in wages taken into account)||Yes|
|Nominal Discount Rate||3.6% average||5% (3% real)||5% (3%real)|
|Wage Growth Assumptions||Salary escalation not considered||Ageing Working Group assumptions||Ageing Working Group assumptions|
|Demographic Assumptions||Mortality assumptions per Prescribed Guidance v1 (issued by the Pensions Authority)||Mortality assumptions per Prescribed Guidance v2 (issued by the Pensions Authority)||Eurostat mortality assumptions|
When estimating the ADL, one of the following two approaches may be applied: either the projected benefit obligations approach (PBO) or the accumulated benefit obligations approach (ABO). The main difference between these two compilation methods refers to the treatment of future wage increases. In the case of the PBO approach, (expected) future increases in income — either through promotions or through a general increase of wages — are taken into account. The ABO approach, on the other hand, considers only the present value of benefits earned to date. Future wage increases are not taken into account.
Eurostat recommends that the PBO approach is applied for the estimation of pension obligations of defined benefit schemes for government employees and of social security pension schemes. However, the Guide states that ABO may be applied if no PBO estimations are available.
As shown in Table 6.4, for private occupational defined benefit schemes in Column B, salary escalation through promotion is not considered given that the liability value reported on the AADR is a transfer value at a point in time. For defined benefit schemes for government employees, it is important to note that general wage increases are taken into account but not salary escalation due to promotion.
For defined benefit pension schemes the level of pension entitlements depends significantly on future wage growth. These schemes usually apply a formula to the member’s salary to determine the level of pension. When using the PBO approach — described in the previous section — future wage development is taken into account. Since the development of future wages is uncertain assumptions have to be made regarding future wage growth.
Generally, it is assumed that, over the long term, wages follow labour productivity growth per capita in the economy. In order to reflect the varied growth paths across the EU, it is recommended in the Eurostat Technical Guide that the wage growth assumptions produced by the European Commission for use in the 2018 Ageing Report — reflecting productivity growth per capita — should be used for the estimation of pension entitlements.
For those private occupational pension schemes in Column B which provide increases on a pay parity basis, the assumed rate of increase must be the relevant rate of price inflation plus 1.5% per annum. This is the pay parity assumption which is underlying Prescribed Guidance in Relation to Section 34 of the Pensions Act, 1990, Version 1 dated June 2014, issued by the Pensions Authority. This guidance sets out the minimum transfer value basis that actuaries adopt in calculating transfer values for funded pension schemes and therefore form the basis of the AADR reported liability values for 2015.
For Columns G and H, the labour productivity per hour growth rate for Ireland (Table 6.5) was taken from the projections run by the European Commission and sent to Member States to form the basis of the 2018 Ageing Report.
|Table 6.5 Average wage increases/labour productivity per hour (growth rates %) per Commission projections intended to form the basis of the 2018 Ageing Report||%|
It is worth noting that some countries, such as France and Spain, adjust pension benefits annually based on changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This is referred to as price indexation. In Ireland, for government managed pension schemes, the practice is to index such pensions on general wage growth. This is referred to as wage indexation.
The level of pension entitlements is also dependent on future demographic developments. Assumed future life expectancy plays a significant role. It determines the expected number of years for which the pension annuity is to be paid out. As a consequence, pension entitlements may vary if different life expectancies are applied. Life expectancies are calculated on the basis of mortality tables already established for the modelling of pension and life insurance schemes.
As already stated, the source data for defined benefit private occupational schemes appearing in Column B comes directly from the AADR data and no adjustment is made for the purposes of the estimates. The 2015 AADRs were based on the Prescribed Guidance in Relation to Section 34 of the Pensions Act, 1990, Version 1.6 Table 6.6 outlines the mortality assumptions used for estimating the ADL for Column B.
|Table 6.6 Mortality assumptions from Prescribed Guidance in Relation to Section 34 of the Pensions Act, 1990, Version 1 used in Column B|
|Pre-retirement mortality||Males: AM92 Females: AF92|
|Post-retirement mortality||Males: 62% PNML00 Females: 70% PNFL00 With an annual compound increase to the annuity value for each year between 2008 and the year in which normal pensionable age falls of: 0.50% (males with no dependant’s pension) 0.38% (females with no dependant’s pension) 0.39% (males with dependant’s pension) 0.39% (females with dependant’s pension)|
The Eurostat Technical Guide prescribes that, for government-managed schemes, Eurostat’s most recent population projections must always be used. The most recent update, referred to as the Eurostat Population Projections 2015, were published in spring 2017 (see Table 6.8).
The Guide also states that, if the mortality of the members of a pension scheme is assumed to differ widely from that of the general population, scheme specific mortality data should be used if available. One deviation worth noting is the mortality assumption used for public service employees in Column G. This sector has been found to have a lower mortality rate than the general population and therefore a more appropriate Irish specific mortality assumption was applied, namely the Prescribed Guidance in Relation to Section 34 of the Pensions Act, 1990, Version 2.7 This version of the guidance was used as it adopts a mortality table based on a study carried out in 2014 (Society of Actuaries in Ireland, 2014). Table 6.7 outlines the mortality assumptions used for estimating the ADL for Column G.
|Table 6.7 Mortality assumptions from Prescribed Guidance in Relation to Section 34 of the Pensions Act, 1990, Version 2 used in Column G|
|Pre-retirement mortality||Males: 73% ILT15 Females: 77% ILT15|
|Post-retirement mortality||Males: 58% ILT15 Females: 62% ILT15 With a compounded annual increase to the annuity value of: 0.36% (males with no spouse’s pension) 0.30% (females with no spouse’s pension) 0.30% (males with spouse’s pension) 0.25% (females with spouse’s pension)|
For the modelling of state pensions which appear in Column H, the Eurostat assumptions for life expectancy at age 66 were used in accordance with the prescribed Eurostat guidance.
|Table 6.8 Life expectancy at age 66, 2015 – 2071 (Eurostat mortality assumptions) for Column H||years|
For calculating pension entitlements, future flows can be projected in nominal or in real8 terms. If nominal values are used, both the discount rate and the wage growth rate should include future inflation expectations. The Eurostat Technical Guide prescribes an inflation rate of 2% to be applied. This was the rate used for all relevant Columns of the pensions table.
In order to estimate entitlements to disability and Invalidity Pensions, assumptions need to be made regarding the probability of becoming disabled in the future. This probability is reflected in the so-called prevalence rate, which is defined in this context as the total number of disabled persons divided by the total population.
As recommended in the Eurostat Technical Guide constant prevalence rates have been used for the estimation of pension entitlements given the uncertainty around future disability prevalence rates.
For Column B, the Pensions Authority guidance prescribes that the transfer value must be calculated on the assumption that the benefit commences on the earliest date at which unreduced benefits are available as a right to the member.
For Column G an assumption is made for the retirement age based on the employee’s current age and scheme rules.
For estimating the pension entitlements for the state pension appearing in Column H, the retirement age is the state pension age currently 66, increasing to 67 in 2021 and 68 in 2028.
The calculation of the ADL for public service pensions recorded in Column G, was carried out by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and further detail on all aspects of the methodology, including the data used, can be seen in the Department's Actuarial Review of Public Service Occupational Pensions in Ireland.9 The calculation of the ADL for state pension benefits in Column H was carried out by KPMG and was first published in the Actuarial Review of the Social Insurance Fund 2015.10
The interpretation of what was required to estimate the ADL for both Columns G and H relied heavily on the Eurostat Technical Guide.
For the estimation of pension liabilities, the Guide distinguishes between pension entitlements accrued by current pensioners, and pension entitlements accrued by current workers. The former group has its working and contribution period behind it, and is therefore already entitled to full pension benefits. For the estimation of ADL, it is important to take into account that current employees have not yet accrued all of their future (expected) full pension benefits upon retirement.
Current pensioners are entitled to pension benefits on the basis of past accrued pension rights. This group is entitled to full pension benefits usually until death.
In both Columns G and H the estimation of retirement benefit entitlements for current employees closely follows the approach for current pensioners with a further two aspects which need to be considered when calculating the accrued pension rights:
1. The fact that current employees are not yet entitled to the full pension they would receive after a complete career needs to be taken into account.
2. Further, given that the current contributors are not yet retired, their future pension payment (and lump sum payment in respect of government employees in Column G) needs to be estimated.
The accrued proportion of the full pension (and lump sum where applicable) under the PBO approach depends on how much of a career has been completed to the balance sheet date, end-2015. The projection of the future career starts after the year for which the latest data on past earnings is available i.e. from 2016 onwards.
The calculation of the accrued pension =
approximated future total prospective pension x T / N
T = Contribution period of the participant until the balance sheet date and
N = total expected contribution periods of the participant until retirement
For public service pensions in Column G the pension benefit at the future point of retirement was calculated for all active employees for whom detailed data was obtained.
In order to determine the value of the liabilities, projection of the benefits payable in the future was first carried out. The projections were performed on an individual line by line basis which captured the idiosyncrasies in the rules and entitlements by sector (e.g. Civil Service, Health, and Education) and by cohort (pre-1995, post-1995, post 2004 entrants and post 2013 entrants).
The ADL calculated under the PBO approach for this sector constitutes the state’s obligations to make pension and other benefit payments to current and potential future beneficiaries on and from the valuation date. The full range of liabilities valued included the main life pension and gratuity, a spouse’s pension, a supplementary pension (where applicable) and death in service benefits including survivors’ pensions and gratuities.
Projected benefit outflows were then capitalised by discounting the projected cash-flows. A wide range of assumptions were used in the calculation of the estimate, see details in previous section.
In the case of Column H, the pension benefit at the future point of retirement was estimated for each cohort or group for whom detailed samples were obtained and then projected over the remaining retirement phase. For the projection of the future contribution career, it is stated in the Eurostat Guide that it is appropriate to base the calculation on a constant contribution profile over time.
1Private and public occupational pension schemes.
2State Pension (Contributory); Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory) and Invalidity Pension.
3Eurostat, European Central Bank. (2011). Technical Compilation Guide for Pension Data in National Accounts.
4Changes to pension entitlements that are imposed without negotiation are recorded as other changes in the volume of assets (Row 9).
5European Commission (2017). The 2018 Ageing Report: Underlying Assumptions & Projection Methodologies. The latest report of the Ageing Working Group is the 2015 Ageing Report: Economic and budgetary projections for the EU Member States (2013-2060) (PDF). The next report is due to be published in 2018.
6Application from June 2014. This Guidance issued by the Pensions Authority replicated the pre-existing Society of Actuaries Guidance (ASP-Pen v5.10).
7Application from January 2017.
8The main difference between nominal and real values is that real values are adjusted for inflation.
9Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (2017). Actuarial Review of Public Service Occupational Pensions in Ireland (PDF) as required by EU Regulation 549/2013.
10Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (2017). Actuarial Review of the Social Insurance Fund 2015 (PDF). Undertaken by KPMG.