Finance Minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz approved the creation of a public committee appointed to examine the retirement age for Israeli women on Tuesday. By statute, the current retirement age for women is 62, but is expected to gradually increase to 64. This follows on an amendment to existing labor retirement laws made by the Knesset in 2003 to raise the retirement age for men from 65 to 67.
The committee became necessary after women's groups, who initially agreed to a compromise in which the retirement age for women would be gradually raised after the retirement age for men was raised, did an about face and opposed raising the retirement age for women at all.
The committee will be headed by Finance Ministry Budget Director, Dr. Udi Nisan, and will include a host of representatives from the academic, research, government, and business sectors – as representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and the Manufacturers Association.
Despite the appeals from Finance Minister Steinitz, leaders of the powerful, quasi-governmental Histradut [General Federation on Labor] have not sent the names of their representatives and it is not represented on the committee. Failure to comply with Minister Steinitz's requests on the part of Histradut was the chief reason for delays in establishing the committee.
Minister Steinitz said, "The issue of retirement age is of social significance and economic complexity. We established a balanced committee to examine in depth the issue of retirement age for women and the economy, which will submit its recommendations for decision makers. The committee should be able to do its job now. "
It is unclear how raising the retirement age for women will meaningfully address the gender gap in Israeli pensions. A recent study by the Marco Center for Political Economics revealed pensions for women are approximately half those of men – with the lower age for women's retirement being only one of several factors.
The wage gap between men and women, lower participation in the work-force by women, and breaks taken for child-birth and rearing are significant factors. Nor is the legislation of retirement age a panacea for early retirement. The average age of retirees from the public service has gone down over the past five years despite government efforts to raise the retirement age through legislation, according to study conducted by the Bank of Israel.
The committee is expected to submit its report to the Minister of Finance in June 2011. The Knesset Finance Committee will then review the committee's conclusions before making its own recommendations towards year's end.