Austrians working longer before retirement: Minister

VIENNA (REUTERS) - The average age at which Austrians retire has risen by more than eight months in just a year, Labour Minister Rudolf Hundstorfer told a newspaper, citing this as evidence that efforts to curb early retirement are starting to pay off.

Getting Austrians to work longer in a culture that values early retirement is a big policy challenge for the centrist coalition government. It is a main factor in efforts to cut the budget deficit and shore up state finances.

"We have set up many barriers to early retirement and that is having an impact. In the first five months of 2014 the average age at which people retire was 58.77 years, while it was only 58.06 years in the same period a year ago," Mr Hundstorfer told Der Standard in an interview published on Thursday.

Under a savings package agreed in 2012, pension payments will at least temporarily rise less than inflation and many people who take early retirement will see payouts reduced.

Eligibility criteria were also tightened to exclude time spent in education rather than working, and the state abolished retirement on a disability package for people under 50.

The standard retirement age in Austria is 65 for men and 60 for women.

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