Should earners get super?

The Herald on Sunday editorial:

Retirement used to be synonymous with receiving National . Not any more. New Zealanders can still collect National Super at age 65 but, as we report today, nearly 40 per cent of those reaching that age now continue working. We have one of the highest rates of employment in the OECD for people aged 65-69, exceeded only by Iceland, South Korea and Japan. Why is this?

One reason is the health of people of pension age today. We report that NZ Health Surveys have found 88.5 per cent of New Zealanders aged 65-74 rate their health as “good” or better, which is virtually the same as the proportion of all adults.

In other words, we feel as well in our late 60s and early 70s as we ever have. And if we are enjoying working we carry on, pocketing a pension of $385 a week (or $592 on the married rate) in addition to our earnings.

It is the generosity of that arrangement that probably accounts for our high placing in the OECD. In places such as Australia, senior citizens are just as healthy as here, can look forward to living just as long as we do and probably enjoyed their career just as much as we did.

But maybe when they reach the qualifying age they have to choose whether to continue working for a living or taking the pension. Maybe we should, too.

So long as the administrative costs of any means test was a small proportion of the revenue it saves, that is what I would do. If you are earning $100,000 a year still you don’t need a welfare benefit!

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