Government spending on state pensioners more than doubled from €2.9 billion to over €6.6 billion in 2000—2009 (+€3.7 billion). Why?
One final comment on the number of pensioners. For this, I turn to the ministry of finance, which has more complete and more updated information. The chart shows the number of pensioners from 2000 to 2012.
From 2000 to 2005, the number of pensioners was growing at 0.6% a year. Then, in 2006—2007, it started to grow at 1.5% a year. Finally, in 2008—2012, it grew by 3.1% a year. The pace of retirements accelerated by 2.5 times in less than a decade! I don’t have enough information to explain this. Perhaps there was a demographic bulge. But I suspect that early retirement incentives played a role as well.
Notes and Sources
The Greek state classifies pensioners in two ways.
In the Hellenic Statistical Authority’s (ELSTAT) Public Finance statistics, they are divided into civil, military, war and other; ELSTAT, Public Finance 2000-2006, 23, here; ELSTAT, Public Finance 2002-2008, 23, here.
In the Ministry of Finance’s budgets, they are classified into civilians, military, war, rail, local government, national resistance and clergy; Ministry of Finance, State Budgets, various editions, here.
Both data series have their advantages and they generally match with two exceptions: the ministry of finance data is for October of each year (ELSTAT does not specify whether this is year-end), and the ministry also includes a count for national resistance fighters, which do not show up in ELSTAT. But the numbers are pretty close otherwise.
For all charts, except the last, I have relied on ELSTAT. There is one more exception: ELSTAT reports spending for 2009 in its Statistical Yearbook 2009—2010, but it does not report the number of pensioners in the same way. I have used the data from the Ministry of Finance to estimate the total number of pensioners in 2009. The results are the same: the split between inflation, more pensioners and higher pensions is similar for the data through 2008 (48% explained by higher pensions).