Alexander Lukashenko signed the decree on the increase of retirement age on April 11, 2016. This decree stipulates that starting from January 1, 2017 retirement will be gradually increased by 6 months until it reaches 63 years for men and 58 years for women. Before the document was signed, there were two conferences in March on the development of pension system.

Thus, on March 10 the head of state declared that final decision on the increase of retirement age will be taken after a wide discussion in society. Besides, he was obliged to admit that this decision was unpopular: “I’ll be honest, according to my information (and I’m sure of it) we didn’t reach an overwhelming majority of support to the increase of retirement age among our population. We are close to a half. And people respond to our offers, requests, slowly, but after we explain, educate, recommend, they understand what we are talking about. Belarusians are educated people.”

15 days had gone by. This term, according to Lukashenko’s information, was enough for the share of supporters of retirement age increase to grow from being “close to a half” up to “an absolute majority”. The initiator of the reform especially noted the reaction of the youth: “Well done for our young people! They understand that it relates to them and employed people in the first place, but they took it calmly. I don’t say they like it. But it happens, that you don’t like something, but there is no escape, you need to go in this direction.”

However, in the course of June IISEPS survey we didn’t succeed in discovering the “absolute majority” supporting the increase of retirement age (table 1). On the contrary, we’ve registered an absolute majority of adversaries to the pension reform. Even among respondents trusting Lukashenko the share of support of retirement age increase is less than a half – 38.8%.


Table 1. Distribution of answers to the question “Recently President Alexander Lukashenko has signed a decree on retirement age. According to this decree retirement age increases by 3 years (up to 58 years for women and up to 63 years for men). Which of the following statements regarding this decree do you agree with?”, %

Variant of answer All respondents Attitude to A. Lukashenko  
Trust Don’t trust
Retirement age should have been increased in order to increase pensions 19.0 38.8 6.2
Retirement age should not have been increased, since many people won’t live to it 70.5 48.7 88.4
DA/NA 10.5 12.5 5.4

 As for the youth (respondents aged between 18 and 29), who supposedly took calmly “these suggestions”, the share of supporters of retirement age increase amounted to 14.9% in this age group. The same level of support of the pension initiative of Alexander Lukashenko was demonstrated by all age groups except for the oldest one (60+). But even among currently retired people, who can be considered as beneficiaries of the decree, only 37.9% pronounced in support of retirement age increase.

Owing to reasons, which don’t need comments, the odds to be in the group of those who won’t live to the retirement age are much higher for men than women. That is why the more decisive refusal to support the reform among the stronger sex looks quite logical: 14.4% vs. 22.8%.

As it follows from table 2, only 15.1% of Belarusians agreed with A. Lukashenko’s statement on the “absolute majority”. Even among the head of state’s supporters this share amounted to less than one third: 10% among young people and 29.1% among older age groups.

Table 2. Distribution of answers to the question “What is your attitude to President Lukashenko’s statement that “absolute majority of our citizens are concordant with the retirement age increase”?”, %

Variant of answer All respondents Attitude to A. Lukashenko  
Trust Don’t trust
I agree 15.1 31.5 4.1
I disagree 58.8 34.2 78.7
I don’t care 17.7 22.1 12.4
DA/NA 8.4 12.2 4.8

Under the conditions of the economic crisis “the state for the people” began to actively declare its readiness to discuss with people fundamental decisions related to internal policy. In this respect the decision of retirement age increase should be regarded as a precedent. From the point of view of organizers, it should be considered as a success: there were no public objections, and the hidden diffuse dissatisfaction, registered by independent sociologists, was never taken into account by the head of state.