RBI Study Reveals Old Pension Scheme to be 4.5 Times More Expensive Than NPS

In a groundbreaking study conducted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the financial implications of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) versus the National Pension System (NPS) have come into sharp focus, revealing significant cost differentials and sustainability concerns.

The Cost Differential

The RBI’s comprehensive analysis indicates that switching from the NPS to the OPS would incur costs approximately 4.5 times higher. This substantial increase in expenditure is not just a one-off financial burden but is projected to escalate to 0.9 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually by 2060. This finding underscores the fiscal challenges associated with the OPS, especially in light of the government’s extensive spending on pension schemes.

Scheme Participation

As of March 2023, the NPS boasts an impressive membership roster, with 23.8 lakh central government employees and 60.7 lakh state government employees enrolled. This high level of participation highlights the NPS’s vital role in the government’s financial planning and in securing the financial future of its employees post-retirement.

Comparative Analysis of OPS and NPS

Old Pension Scheme (OPS):

  • Structure: A defined benefit plan offering retirees 50% of their final salary as a pension.
  • Investment: Primarily in government securities.
  • Benefits: Guarantees lifetime income based on service duration and salary.
  • Limitations: Financial sustainability concerns due to changing demographics and increased life expectancy; limited investment flexibility.

National Pension System (NPS):

  • Structure: Based on employee contributions, without predetermined benefits. Offers a pension plan tied to the lowest salary.
  • Investment: Diversifies across equity, bonds, and government securities.
  • Benefits: Investment flexibility, potential for higher returns, and portability across employers.
  • Drawbacks: Exposed to market fluctuations, no fixed pension amount guarantee, and requires individual management of investment choices.

Investment Strategies and Withdrawal Options

The OPS’s investment strategy is relatively conservative, focusing on government securities. In contrast, the NPS offers a more diversified portfolio, which includes equity and bonds, aimed at optimizing returns and effectively managing risk.

Regarding withdrawals, the OPS provides a fixed pension for life, whereas the NPS offers various withdrawal options, including partial withdrawals before retirement and different annuity choices post-retirement.


The RBI’s study throws into relief the pressing need for a balanced approach to pension planning. While the OPS offers stability and certainty, its long-term viability is fraught with financial challenges. The NPS, on the other hand, although riskier due to its exposure to market fluctuations, provides flexibility and the potential for higher returns.

This analysis is pivotal for policymakers and stakeholders in the pension sector, as they navigate the complex terrain of ensuring financial security for retirees while maintaining the fiscal health of the nation’s economy.



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