No marriage certificate and children together – cohabitation is popular. In the event of a separation, the woman is usually at risk of a gap in her provisions. Politicians have recognized the problem.
Living together unmarried and having children together: This type of family is becoming more and more common. It can become a problem especially for women in retirement age. This is shown by a new study commissioned by the life insurer Swiss Life.
The study speaks of a cohabitation boom. The numbers have virtually doubled in recent years, explains study director Andreas Christen: “In 2010, only one in ten couples with children under the age of 5 were unmarried – now it is one in five.”
Reduction in workload with consequences
Cohabitation with children suits many people, especially young people. Often both are initially fully employed; But when there is a child, the mother in particular reduces her workload. With consequences: “Let’s assume the couple has lived together for 10 years. He works full time, she works 60 percent and spends the rest of the time primarily looking after the children. Then there will be a separation.”
Now there are two scenarios:
Scenario 1: The couple is married and divorcing. The savings for old age with the AHV and especially with the pension fund are divided equally.Scenario 2: The couple is unmarried and is separating. There is no division. However, she has much less retirement savings than he does. Especially when it comes to pension fund assets.
This gap in provision for many women is increasingly perceived as a nuisance. Especially since the woman didn’t do nothing. She looked after her partner and raised their children. And under certain circumstances she has also put her own professional ambitions on hold.
Politicians see a need for action
Various proposals are on the table to address the problem. The Federal Council is examining whether a change in the system of occupational pension provision would be appropriate. For example, the division of pension fund contributions could not be tied to marital status, but rather to shared children. From the first child together, the savings would be put into one pot and divided equally.
Many experts think little of this model. It is hardly feasible. Too many pension funds would be involved because people change jobs. Many people also have children with different partners. The administrative effort would be immense.
Another idea comes from the economist and emeritus professor of economics at the University of Zurich, Margit Osterloh. She advocates a kind of compensation agreement: a contract that men and women conclude before children come.
Most mothers reduce their workload, says Osterloh. “The agreement should state that as soon as the mother reduces her work commitment, she will receive appropriate compensation in the event of a separation.” So that she doesn’t end up worse off financially than he is – regardless of whether the two were married or not.
Legend: Economist Osterloh suggests concluding a compensation agreement – before the couple has children. Keystone/Petra Orosz
But questions also arise with this model because it is based on voluntariness. Many people don’t think about failure right away at the beginning of a relationship. Hardly negotiated compensation contracts in the worst case scenario are likely to be a hurdle for many.
Nevertheless, the worst case scenario happens more often than you think. It would be sensible to take precautions here – be it on a private initiative or through new models of retirement provision. So that the decision to have a family does not become a pension trap for women.