To provide for sustainable pensions and facilitate a longer working life, successive Governments have considered the sustainability challenges faced by the pensions system as a result of changing demographics in Ireland. As far back as 2007, the then Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Martin Cullen, launched the Green Paper on Pensions, which proposed raising the pension age. That was followed by a major public consultation exercise. Three years later, following the public consultation, the then Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Mary Hanafin, launched the national pensions framework. Following a Government decision, it set out the agenda of changes in the State pension age to be enacted in 2014, 2021 and 2028. This strategy was enacted via legislation introduced by the then Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Burton, and passed in 2011. It provided for an increase in the State pension age in three separate stages. In 2014, the State pension age was standardised at 66. This will be increased to 67 in 2021 and 68 in 2028.
The Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023, which I launched last year, stated that future changes in the State pension age after 2035 will be based on research into life expectancy. We are all well aware that, thankfully, we are living longer and happier lives. That is in keeping with similar measures introduced by most EU and OECD countries.
The reason for the changes was to make the State pension system more sustainable as life expectancy increases. That is essential, as people who are working now and whose PRSI contributions fund State pension payments will need a State pension when the time comes for them to retire. The demographic change has significant implications for the future costs of the State's pension provision, which are increasing by approximately €1 billion every four to five years. This figure does not take account of any rate increases we may want for pensioners. The number of recipients of contributory and non-contributory State pensions is estimated to increase by an average of 21,300 per year up to 2024. It is also estimated that 88% will have entered insurable employment at least 20 years before reaching the State pension age.