History time: Introduction to the Swiss first pillar

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The OASI, short for old-age and survivors’ insurance, is the 1st pillar of the pension system. Its purpose is to cover our basic needs or those of our spouse(s) or kid(s) in case of death. 

As its name suggests, it consists of two pensions. 

The first one is the retirement pension, which allows us to take a well-deserved retirement while being assured minimal material security. 

The second one, the survivor pension, alleviates the financial difficulties met in the event of a parent’s or spouse’s death, which is invariably additional to psychological suffering. 

As for DI, short for invalidity insurance, its purpose is to cover the basic needs of people with disabilities recognized as such by the law (accident, illness or congenital disorders). In essence, this concerns individuals who are unable to earn a living due to a or several health-related issues. 

Simple enough, right? 

While countries like Germany established various social insurances, including old-age insurance, as soon as the end of the 19th century, it was not until 1st January 1948 that the first OASI pensions were paid in Switzerland.

There may be no rush but I’m still glad to be living in a time when the State provides me with a vital minimum from a certain age. Aren’t you? 

So how were retirement pensions financed before 1948? We would count on families, charities and churches! Their members would give up part of their resources in order to ensure a dignified life to those who had become unable to work.  

In other words, to benefit from a suitable retirement income, one had to have been a good parent, been charitable and attended church every Sunday morning! Had I been alive at that time, I would not have been given a single penny. Ouch! 

Since then, we’ve come a long way! But the basic principle of the 1st pillar, despite what one may believe, remains unchanged. 

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