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Great Britain's retirement system at a glance

Great Britain's complicated retirement system at a glance:

_Retirement age: 65 for men, 60 for women. It becomes 65 for both sexes in 2020.

_The pension system has three tiers:

First tier: Basic state pension. The rich pay more in taxes for pensions than the poor do, and both get a minimum flat-rate benefit. If an individual or family who's getting that still falls below a minimum poverty level, they get an additional benefit—that's a safety net to assure minimum income.

Second tier: Atop the basic pension, retirees get a second-tier benefit that varies according to how much they earned. Since 1987, workers have been able to divert a portion of these contributions into personal retirement accounts. They accept a matching reduction in guaranteed benefits in exchange for the chance to earn more in stocks and bonds.

Third tier: Many Britons also have private pensions, much as Americans do, ranging from employer-employee matching defined-benefit plans to 401(k)-style investment plans and Individual Retirement Accounts.

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Source: Pensions Policy Institute, The Pensions Primer.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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