ROME (Reuters) - The Italian government on Thursday approved a scheme to allow people to retire earlier, rolling back a 2011 law that had sharply raised the pensionable age.
Following are the main features of the reform, which takes effect in April:
The reform will cost 4 billion euros (3.51 billion pounds) in 2019, rising to just over 8 billion in 2020 and 2021.
People will be able to retire at 62 - as long as they have made at least 38 years of pension contributions.
The 2011 reform, passed at the height of a debt crisis, sharply raised the retirement age to 67 for many Italians, with further increases scheduled to match rising life expectancy.
Private sector workers who have reached the threshold will be able to retire from April, while workers in the state sector will have to wait until August.
The government says that it aims to extend the reform after 2021 by allowing anyone with 41 years of contributions to retire, regardless of their age.
Because pensions are calculated according to contributions paid, those who opt to retire early will receive a lower pension than if they had remained in work longer.
The 2011 reform was deeply unpopular, partly because hundreds of thousands of Italians who had quit work early expecting to retire shortly afterwards were left stranded for years with neither a job nor a pension.
The government says the new rules will end their plight while providing much-needed turnover in the labour market, allowing older, less motivated workers to retire and freeing up jobs for the young unemployed.
Critics argue that, in the long-term, Italy’s large public debt and ageing population mean it cannot afford to lower the retirement age.
The debt, at 132 percent of gross domestic product, is proportionally the second highest in the euro zone after Greece, Italy also spends more on pensions as a proportion of GDP than any euro zone country except Greece, according to Eurostat data.
Reporting By Gavin Jones; Editing by Kevin Liffey