BONN, Germany - Pension reforms that were passed earlier this year are not enough to steer Germany's national pension system away from trouble, according to the Federal Employment Institute, an autonomously administered group made up of labor, industry and government representatives.
The Nuremberg-based work placement and employment insurance agency's research subsidiary - Institute fuer Arbeitsmarket und Berufsforschung, or IAB - concludes recent government reform will not stem burgeoning government outlays and wage costs.
An IAB research analyst said labor market statistics are used to map out the effect of unemployment and early retirement up to 2000.
"With near certainty we can say the burden will remain," the analyst said.
The study examined the structure of the German labor force based on age and sex. It also looked at the effect of the mortality rate.
With "extreme accuracy" the IAB has been able to project the effect of past unemployment and retirement, he said.
In July, German lawmakers voted to cut pension outlays by 33 billion deutsche marks ($22.3 billion). To do so, it will raise the retirement age for women, cut benefits - such as spa treatments - and curb the opportunity for early retirement.
The government blames pension system shortfalls largely on abuse of early-retirement rules; those rules provided employees with generous retirement benefits if they were laid off.
Companies used the early retirement rule to lay off consenting employees, who would then place more burden on the national pension system. Companies would profit by reducing their personnel costs.
To fight this abuse, the government moved to make early retirement less attractive by reducing benefits for those who retire before age 60.
But a surprising result the study found is that contrary to government assertion, the effect of companies misusing the early retirement rule is not great.
"We can in no way confirm that this is a great factor in growing burdens on the national pension system," said Johann Fuchs, study administrator.
Mr. Fuchs contends German unification was the greatest factor burdening the pension system: "There is indication high unemployment in the new German states is the real culprit here."
The study concludes that while other elements of the legislation will be successful, the early retirement change will be largely ineffective.
According to IAB calculations, some 64% of German employees ages 55 to 59 are exempt from the law, and they will be able to retire under the old rule.
This group is composed of women, the unemployed and those who took employer-offered early retirement before the legislation takes effect in 1997.
Employers had expected government measures would stop the increase of their social insurance contributions to the German pension system, which now amount to 19.2% of wages.
Germany's pension contributions are among the highest in the world, and the government has made it a priority to reduce additional wage costs to make Germany more competitive.
The IAB's study concludes the burdens on Germany's national retirement system will remain at their current level up to 2000.