Press release

Study: Today’s young Germans are not saving for retirement

However, they would welcome "nudges" for pension scheme enrolment, a study by Hertie School professors and MetallRente shows.

Detailed information and downloads can be found on the website of MetallRente (in German).

Berlin, 21 April 2016. Policymakers have to act – and quickly. Only 35% of young people between 17 and 27 routinely save for their retirement – that’s down from 38% in 2010. “Even 15 years after the pension reform, a culture of supplementary private retirement savings has not yet been established in Germany. The young generation is actually moving in the opposite direction,” says the Hertie School’s Christian Traxler. Traxler is a co-author of the MetallRente study, Youth, Retirement Savings, Finances, together with Hertie School youth researcher Klaus Hurrelmann, who has overseen the three surveys carried out since 2010.

“Generation Y is increasingly doubtful about private pension plans. The realism of the youth is striking. They are well aware that given the current conditions, today’s retirement schemes cannot support an adequate standard of living in old age“, says Hurrelmann. In fact, 65% of those surveyed said they would like to be “nudged” through mechanisms like automatic enrolment in pension savings schemes. When combined with opt-outs and subsidies, 89% of those polled were in favour. Such an automised scheme was introduced in the UK in 2012, with the immediate effect of reversing a long-term decline in participation.

Some of the key findings of the study are:

  • Young Germans are optimistic about the future – 73% see a bright future for themselves
  • They are less afraid of poverty in old age but doubtful about private pension schemes
  • 65% would welcome automised savings schemes with opt-outs and “nudges”.
  • Generation Y saves less for old age. Supplementary private retirement plans have not taken root with this generation, 15 years after the pension reform.
  • Only 35% are saving in private pension plans.
  • Better information, like school courses in finances and economics, are needed.
  • Company pensions are becoming more popular.
  • Policymakers must pave the way.

Please find detailed information on the website of MetallRente (in German).


Klaus Hurrelmann and Christian Traxler on why today’s young Germans are the pension reform's precarious generation. Read the interview in German on the Hertie School blog.