Thu, Aug 20, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Benefits hit by Brazil’s ‘Viagra effect’


The widespread tendency in Brazil for men to remarry women several decades younger — called the “Viagra effect” — is undermining the country’s pension system, researchers warned on Tuesday.

The report, by Brazil’s National Social Security Institute (INSS), showed that a trend of men in their 60s marrying women half their age was leaving a big pool of young widows collecting benefits for much longer than anticipated.

“The social security system was planned so that the wife receives her husband’s pension for only 15 years or so. With growing life expectancy and remarriages with much younger women, benefits today stretch out over 35 years,” said Paulo Tafner, the author of the study.

He said the younger-wife phenomenon was commonly called the “Viagra effect,” but he noted that in fact the trend started in the 1970s — well before the advent of the little blue pill.

The INSS report said two out of three men who are separated remarry, while only one out of three separated women find a new husband.

Of the separated men, 64 percent of those aged more than 50 remarry women younger than them. In the 60 to 64 age range, the proportion is 69 percent.

Brazil has a mixed public-private pensions system. Those in the public system receive the equivalent of their salary after retirement, while those with private funds receive a maximum of US$1,800 a month.

Under current laws, when a retired man dies, his wife continues to receive his full pension until her own death.

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