Commenting on the news on the Russians’ healthy life expectancy, Igor Efremov, Researcher of the International Department of Demography and Human Capital of the Gaidar Institute recommended that the rates of increase in the retirement age, particularly for men, should be slowed down in the Russian Federation. Otherwise, the period of their healthy life may end before retirement. The expert’s opinion was presented by the  Nezavisimay Gazeta daily.

The Bloomberg news agency has published a rating of 38 countries as regards healthy life expectance (HLE) of pensioners. Depending on a country, researchers estimate the average HLE in the range of 8-18.5 years. As per Rosstat’s data, HLE of pensioners in Russia was equal to a little over six years in 2022. The RF Ministry of Health specified that in 2021-2022 this indicator value was affected by the pandemic which had a negative impact, particularly on the elderly population. Also, the Agency referred to a lack of comparability of the Russian and foreign data and assessment methods which argument Igor Efremov agrees with.   

“HLE assessment methods used by Rosstat and the WHO actually vary. For example, according to Rosstat’s methods HLE at birth for the whole population of Russia is equal to about 60 years, while according to the WHO’s methodology, to about 64 years,” Igor Efremov notes. With Bloomberg’s methodology applied to Russia, provided that specified reservations are taken into account, HLE of Russian male pensioners is equal to about 10 years, while that of female pensioners, to about 18-19 years, Igor Efremov estimates.

According to Bloomberg, the longest HLE period was registered in France (for men) and in Luxemburg (for women), while the shortest one, in Mexico (both for men and women). Interestingly, Columbia and the USA were also outsiders as regards the HLE indicators for men and women, respectively.

“Comparison with other developed countries (OECD) has revealed that under this methodology HLE of Russian female pensioners is the highest in the world, that is, almost similar to that in France, Spain or Austria. By contrast, among developed countries HLE of Russian male pensioners is one of the shortest, like the one in Chile, Latvia and Lithuania,” Igor Efremov believes.

Notably, according to Igor Efremov such good indicators for women can be explained primarily by “their very low retirement age as compared to most countries of the world”, rather than Russian women’s health.

But pros and cons of a particular methodology do not change the fact that HLE of Russian pensioners is not long enough. This indicator is affected by numerous factors: lifestyle, work conditions, the level of development of medicine and other.

At the same time, as Igor Efremov notes, the retirement age was conceived as a notional average age limit where most people lose their ability to work. In Russia, HLE of Russian pensioners vary greatly for men and women. “The situation with HLE of men is very bad and keeps deteriorating because men’s retirement age is increasing too fast, while HLE growth fails to catch up with it,” Igor Efremov notes.

According to Igor Efremov’s recommended guidelines for changing the situation for the better, growth rates of the retirement age for Russian men in the current conditions should be slowed down from the current six months on average per year to one month per year.