Pensions in National Accounts

The international statistical standards, the System of National Accounts (2008 SNA) and European System of National and Regional Accounts 2010 (ESA 2010) have recently been updated in order to keep up with new social and economic developments. The recognition of research and development expenditure as investment was one major improvement of the standards with view to growth accounting. Another focus of ESA 2010 is the enhanced reporting on pensions. The newly developed framework of a supplementary pension table on accrued-to-date pension entitlements is in particular important in the context of an ageing society where comprehensive information on pensions is indispensable. At the same time, it should be noted that accrued-to-date pension entitlements in social insurance are not as such a measure of the sustainability of public finances and not part of government debt.

Enhanced reporting on pensions

ESA 95 recognised pension obligations on the balance sheet only for funded schemes; unfunded employer schemes did not lead to the recognition of liabilities for the employer. ESA 2010 reports in its core accounts all employment-related pension entitlements outside general government, irrespectively of whether the schemes are funded or not. In addition, the supplementary table on pensions presents all accrued-to-date pension entitlements in social insurance; including unfunded government pension schemes and social security pensions.

The European reporting system on age related expenditure is multifaceted. While national accountants focus on already earned (accrued-to-date) pension entitlements, the Economic Policy Committee (EPC) is analysing the impact of ageing on European societies from in a wider angle. The EPC'S Ageing Report brings together estimates even for entitlements being accrued in the future, including expenditure on health care and long-term care, pointing at the long-term sustainability of public finances.

Data transmission schedule

The transmission of the supplementary table on pensions will become obligatory for Member States by the end of 2017. Thankworthy, some countries already volunteered and submitted their first preliminary estimates to Eurostat. This information, in the structure of table 29 of the transmission programme of data, can be found in the section 'Pension Data in National Accounts'. The section, as the whole web section on pensions, will be expanded when more data and metadata (pension fact sheets) become available.

Actuarial assumptions and sensitivity analyses

The results of actuarial calculations on pension entitlements depend to a large extent on the underlying assumptions. The already available sensitivity analyses on the most important parameter, the discount rate, show this very clearly. Therefore, a harmonised and coordinated approach is essential for ensuring comparable results and the key assumptions will be regularly reviewed by statisticians and experts working on ageing populations in order to maintain consistency and cross-country comparability.

National publications on pensions complement the information requested by ESA 2010. Links to national publications are provided in the section 'Other information'. It should be noted, that national publications do not always follow the format of the supplementary table. In addition, key economic parameters and valuation procedures may differ from the recommendations of the European Technical Compilation Guide for Pension Data in National Accounts.

Any question on pensions in national accounts and any submission of pension related publications can be addressed to ESTAT-NA-Pensions@ec.europa.eu