Study shows Super age must go up - expert

WALSALL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08:  A pensioner holds his walking stick on September 8, 2014 in Walsall, England. Britain is facing multiple problems stemming from an increase in the elderly proportion of its population, including increasing health care costs, strains on its social security system, a shortage of senior care workers and challenges to the employment market.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The Government is being urged to take a look at the age of eligibility for the state pension.

The call has come from Massey University's Dr Claire Matthews. She's the co-author of a study that has found a majority of people aged between 21 and 26 believe the age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation will be raised by the time they retire.

The Westpac Massey University Financial Education Centre research found that 84 percent of people expect the age of eligibility for the pension - currently 65 - to increase.

Forty five percent believe super payments will not be sufficient for their retirement. Sixty-three percent think superannuation  will eventually be means-tested.

Dr Matthews says the survey offers more evidence that younger people accept they will not retire with the same level of government support as today's retirees.

"The people who are most opposed to the age of eligibility increasing are those currently retired or close to retirement.

"Yet younger people, who will be the most affected, are already getting the message that receiving New Zealand superannuation at age 65 is reasonably unlikely."

That is why she believes the time is right for the Government to look at lifting the age of eligibility.

"The truth is it's not sustainable for NZ Super to be available at 65."

Dr Matthews believes the Government needs to move sooner, rather than later, to lift the pension age.

"The longer they leave it, the harder it is going to be. With enough time, the age of eligibility can be raised gradually, which lessens the impact on everyone."

The findings are part of a twenty year study being conducted into young people's attitudes towards personal finance.

The research began in 2012, with 318 people aged 18 to 22 years old. Of the original 318 people, 44 percent (141 people) responded to the latest survey.

This year's research found that 90 percent of respondents are currently a member of KiwiSaver, with 73 percent contributing 3 or 4  percent of their annual income to their Kiwisaver account.

But the study's findings suggest many young people might be overly optimistic about their chances of owning a home by the time they retire.

Eighty-six percent said they will have a freehold home by retirement. That is well above the current home ownership rate in New Zealand of 64.8 percent.

Sixty-two percent feel "in control" of their financial situation and 73 percent feel good about their money management skills.

Dr Matthew says: "There is a concern that some young people are over-confident about their money skills.

"To a large extent, they are still relying on advice from family and friends, although there's a growing number researching on the internet as well, which you'd expect. Unfortunately, all these sources of information can be fantastic, but they can also be pretty doubtful."

The next part of the study will look more closely at people's finances to see whether they are really in control of their finance, or just think they are.