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Pension Coverage

The Pensions Survey is carried out on an annual basis in the third quarter of the year, as a module of the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The first iteration of this annual data collection on pension coverage in the State commenced in Quarter 3 2018 and is now carried out on an annual basis.

This survey does not measure pensions provided through the State Social Welfare Scheme and instead relates to occupational and personal pension cover (supplementary pension coverage) only. It meets national demands for annual estimates of overall supplementary pension coverage and pension types.

The Pensions Survey data is collected directly from private households. Questions about supplementary pension coverage are asked only of persons in employment aged 20 to 69 years. Institutional households (e.g. nursing homes, barracks, boarding schools, hotels etc.) are not covered by the survey.

Link to publication: Pension Coverage

Interactive tables: Statbank

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Almost six in every ten workers (59.8%) had pension coverage in Quarter 3 2019, an increase of just over three percentage points on the same period in 2018. This includes occupational pension provision from current and previous employments, as well as personal pension coverage where payments have been deferred for a while or are currently being drawn down. The State Pension is excluded for the purposes of this survey. When the scope is narrowed for Quarter 3 2019 to only occupational pension coverage from current employment and personal pension in current contribution (as in Quarter 4 2015), supplementary pension coverage for workers aged 20 to 69 years is 50.4%, compared with 47.1% in Quarter 3 2018.

Supplementary pension coverage of males was marginally higher than for females, 60.7% had supplementary pension coverage compared with 58.7% of females.

Supplementary pension coverage increases with age. Over two thirds (67.2%) of workers aged 35 to 44 years have pension coverage, while seven in every ten persons in employment have a pension in the combined age group 45 to 69 years – of persons in employment in the 45 to 54 years age group, 71.8% of workers have pension coverage, compared with 69.4% of workers in the 55 to 69 years age cohort.

Table 11.1 Pension coverage in the State for persons in employment (ILO) aged 20 to 69 years, 2018 - 2019

The NACE economic sectors with the highest pension coverage in Quarter 3 2019 were Public administration and defence; compulsory social security (93%), followed by Financial, insurance and real estate activities (85.7%) and Education (83.8%).

Analysis of pension coverage by broad occupational groups shows that workers whose occupation was classified as Professionals had the highest pension coverage rate (84%), followed by Managers, directors and senior officials (71.7%) and Associate professional and technical (69.3%).

Table 11.2 Pension coverage for persons in employment (ILO) aged 20 to 69 years by NACE economic sector and broad occupational group, 2018 - 2019

Managers, directors and senior officialsProfessionals Associate professional and technicalAdministrative and secretarialSkilled trades Caring, leisure and other servicesSales and customer service Process, plant and machine operativesElementary
Pension Coverage 201971.78469.365.445.34331.254.427.5
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Of those workers who had a pension in Quarter 3 2019, over six in ten (61.5%) had Occupational pension coverage only (from current or previous employments), 15.1% had Personal pension coverage only, while nearly one quarter (23.4%) had both occupational and personal pensions for their retirement, an increase of over three percentage points on the same period in 2018.

Table 11.3 Persons in employment (ILO) aged 20 to 69 years with a pension classified by type of pension, Q3 2018 and Q3 2019

Occupational pension onlyPersonal pension onlyBoth occupational and personal pension
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The proportion of workers with an occupational pension from their current employment who identified their pension as a Defined Contribution pension was 61.7% and 36.4% of workers had a Defined Benefit occupational pension from their current job, while 1.9% had a Hybrid pension. Rates of Defined Benefit occupational pension cover is highest for the older age groups, with 53.3% of females and 51.8% of males in the 55 to 69 years age group having a Defined Benefit occupational pension in their current employment.

Self-employed persons, who did not have an occupational pension, were asked if they had an occupational pension from a previous employment. Over two thirds (67.2%) confirmed they had a Defined Contribution pension, while 28.4% had a Defined Benefit occupational pension and 4.4% were part of a Hybrid pension scheme from a previous employment.

Table 11.4 Persons with occupational pension coverage classified by pension type, Q3 2019

Defined BenefitDefined ContributionHybrid
Employees with an occupational pension from their current employment36.461.71.9
Employees with occupational pension, only from a previous employment20.7772.3
Self employed persons with occupational pension from a previous employment28.467.24.4
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In Quarter 3 2019, respondents were asked not only about personal pensions in current contribution, but also personal pensions where payments had been deferred for a period, or were already being drawn down. Almost one third (32.7%) of workers with personal pension coverage had deferred payments for a period, almost two thirds (65.4%) were in current contribution, while just 1.9% were already drawing down a personal pension.

Table 11.5 Persons in employment aged 20 to 69 years with personal pension coverage, Q3 2019

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In the Pensions Survey of Quarter 3 2019, new questions were introduced for employees with no occupational pension coverage. Employees whose employer did not offer a pension scheme or who were not eligible to join the pension scheme at work, were excluded from these questions. The questions were asked only of persons who had chosen not to be part of their employer's pension scheme. They also had no other pension coverage either from previous employments or from a personal pension. They were asked for the main reason for having no pension coverage. One third (33.2%) stated that they could not afford a pension while just over 36% (36.2%) cited never got around to organising it. One in twelve (8.6%) of these employees felt that other sources offer a better return for investment while 5.6% said that other sources including the State pension, savings, etc. would be adequate.

Table 11.6 Persons in employment (ILO) aged 20 to 69 years with no occupational pension classified by main reason for not having a pension, Q3 2019

Never got around to organising itCan't afford a pensionOther sources offer a better return for investmentOther sources will be adequate including state pension or savings etcDon't understand pensionsToo much financial riskOther

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. Almost 6 in every 10 (59.7%) workers cited the State Pension as their future expected source of income, while one in ten stated that they would rely on savings or investments while one fifth (20.1%) were undecided. Spouse or partner's occupational or personal pension was cited as an expected source of income on retirement by 3.7% of workers with no pension coverage.

Table 11.7 Persons in employment (ILO) aged 20 to 69 years without a pension classified by expected source of income on retirement, Q3 2019

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