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Welfare Reform on the Web (November 2007): Pensions - overseas

The Bulgarian pension reform: post-accession issues and challenges

D. Asenova and R. McKinnon

European Social Policy, vol. 17, 2007, p. 389-396

In 2000 Bulgaria legislated for the introduction of a multi-pillared pension system, consisting of a public social insurance first pillar, a second pillar of private mandatory individual accounts, and a third pillar of private voluntary individual accounts. Bulgaria also operates a means-tested tax-financed social pension programme aimed at reducing poverty among marginalised groups. Unfortunately the pension reform has so far failed to meet the basic subsistence needs of many older people, and has exacerbated their exposure to poverty. The authors argue for more generous tax-financed social pensions alongside contributory pension provision to combat old-age poverty.

The effect of immigration in the retirement age reforms: learning from a numerical example

J.A. Lacomba and F. Lagos

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol.16, 2007, p. 367-372

One of the main reforms undertaken to ensure the long-term viability of public pension systems is to postpone the legal retirement age. This research suggests that governments should take into account the effects of immigration on public pension systems. In fact, immigration could imply a rise in the optimal retirement age for the native population. If immigrants have high labour productivity, their arrival raises the relative cost of leisure activities and so generates incentives to postpone retirement. However, if immigrants have low labour productivity, their arrival reduces native born individuals' income by decreasing their pension benefits. In this case postponing retirement not only increases the length of working life, but also reduces the period spent sharing pension benefits with low-skilled immigrants.

From the citizen's wage to self-made pensions? The changing culture of old age provision in Canada and Germany

I. Bode

Current Sociology, Vol. 55,2007, p. 696-717

Examines the main drivers of change in systems of old age provision in western economies and argues that they can be explained by what it calls the 'cultural architecture', underpinned by the idea of pensions as a citizen's wage, and the concept of the self-made pension. The author compares the public and private pension systems of Germany and Canada to illustrate these ideas and how they play out in practice.

Long-term changes in the economic activity of older males in Korea

C. Lee

Economic Development and Cultural Change, vol. 56, 2007, p. 99-123

This article estimates the labour force participation rates of older men in Korea from 1955 to 2000 and analyses the effects of several determining factors of labour force participation decisions at older ages. The most remarkable result is that the labour force participation of men over 60 increased from 40-45% in 1965 to 53-55% in 1995. This contrasts with the experience of other OECD countries, which saw a sharp rise in early retirement over the last century. The rise in labour force participation of older men in Korea is explained by a dramatic increase in work activity among the rural elderly population. It is hypothesised that the relative decline of the rural economy in the course of industrialisation made it difficult for the elderly population to save for retirement.

Notional defined contributions (NDC): solvency and risk in Spain

M. del Carmen Boado-Penas, I. Dominguez-Fabian and C. Vidal-Melia

International Social Security Review, vol. 60, no.4, 2007, p. 105-127

In Spain there have been studies which predict serious financial shortfalls in the public pension scheme from 2015 and propose measures to protect the system from long-term insolvency. This paper seeks to demonstrate, by indirect means, the actuarial imbalance in the Spanish pension system under current arrangements, and to measure the degree of aggregate economic risk to which pensioners would be exposed when applying formulas for the calculation of retirement pensions based on notional accounts.

Pension fund politics: the dangers of socially responsible investing

J. Entine (ed)

Washington, DC.: AEI Press, 2007

Examines how American pension funds have been used to further the wishes of the funds' trustees without due regard to their responsibility to invest wisely. This book is critical of pension managers who define social responsibility as part of their investment plans, and looks at the impact on members of the pension funds.

When the welfare state meets the regulatory state: EU occupational pension policy

M. Haverland

Journal of European Public Policy, vol. 14, 2007, p. 886-904

This article investigates the impact of the European Pension Fund directive on occupational pension schemes in member states. It is concluded that the directive will lead neither to a full liberalization of pension markets nor to the establishment of a European social policy regime at EU level. Despite liberalization pressures from international business, member states largely successfully defended their domestic status quo and maintained control over the social dimension of occupational pensions. Business was too fragmented to succeed in establishing a full blown liberal regime for occupational pensions across the EU, although the pressure it exerted was sufficient to secure liberal investment principles.

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