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Welfare Reform on the Web (September 2008): Pensions - overseas

Early retirement in Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom: a longitudinal analysis of individual factors and institutional regimes

T. Schils

European Sociological Review, vol.24, 2008, p. 315-329

This article analyses early retirement patterns in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. These countries differ with respect to the policy legacy behind the social security system, not only in terms of the coverage and generosity of publicly provided pensions, but also in the extent to which the state interferes in the non-public pillars of pension provision. Such differences are expected to create distinct patterns of early retirement. Findings from the analysis of longer running panel data suggest that differences in pension and early retirement systems are reflected in the retirement behaviour of older workers. In the UK, where labour market participation is strongly encouraged and early retirement possibilities are most limited, the lowest number of early exits are found. The results also show that social security pathways such as disability and unemployment as less likely to be used in the UK than in Germany and the Netherlands, where benefits are more generous.

Labour market policy for 'active ageing' in Europe: expanding options for retirement transitions

M. Hartlapp and G. Schmid

Journal of Social Policy, vol.37, 2008, p. 409-31

Enabling older people to participate in the labour market for as long as they wish and to combine paid work with other activities improves their quality of life. This article begins by describing the employment situation for older workers in different European countries. It discusses the factors which promote and inhibit the employment of older workers across Europe, and proposes some strategies to promote active ageing. These include benefit cuts to discourage early retirement, removing care-giving responsibilities from the family, investment in training older workers, outlawing age discrimination, and discouraging retirement on grounds of ill health.

Old age pensions, poverty and dignity: historical arguments for universal pensions

N. Kildal and S. Kuhnle

Global Social Policy, vol. 8, 2008, p. 208-237

This article refers to studies indicating that universal old age pensions alone or in combination with earnings related schemes are conducive to poverty alleviation and less income inequality. However, few countries have introduced universal old age pension programmes. The paper looks at the arguments for establishing universal old age pension schemes in Canada, Mauritius and Norway, which all introduced them in the 1950s. Poverty reduction among the elderly was an important aim in Norway and Canada, but the main consideration in all three countries was a moral aversion to means-testing and a desire to achieve fairness. It was also argued in all three countries that a universal scheme would be cheaper to administer than a system based on means-testing.

Pension reform in China

F. Salditt, P. Whiteford and W. Adema

International Social Security Review, vol. 61, no.3, 2008, p. 47-71

This article analyses China's progress in creating a national old age insurance system up to the end of 2006. It provides a detailed description of the system and an assessment of the degree to which it has achieved its aim of providing social security for more people. Since 1997 there have been many reforms, but the scope of the system remains limited, with a coverage rate of less than 50% of urban employees. The rural population remains outside the system, and it seems likely that the majority of the population will be dependent on family support for many years to come.

Pension reform in Nigeria: how not to 'learn from others'

B. H. Casey and J.M. Dostal

Global Social Policy, vol. 8, 2008, p. 238-266

In 2004, Nigeria was the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to introduce a pension system based on individual funded accounts which was closely modelled on the Chilean system. The authors question whether the infrastructure required to operate such a system exists in Nigeria, and whether such as system is appropriate for the country. They suggest an alternative in the shape of a social pension financed out of general taxation.

Pensions reductions: can welfare be preserved by delaying retirement?

M. Lachance

Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, vol. 7 2008, p. 157-177

Examines whether working longer (delaying retirement) can help maintain income levels in the face of reduced levels of pensions benefits. The author is based in the United States, but she points out that her approach and conclusions can be applied directly to the UK pensions landscape. The model uses a life-cycle framework which includes utility from leisure. It finds that working longer does little to offset the negative impact of pension reductions on welfare. The article also suggests actions that can improve the effectiveness of policies designed to encourage and enable people to work longer.

The trade-off between home-ownership and pensions: individual and institutional determinants of old-age poverty

C. Dewilde and P. Raeymaeckers

Ageing and Society, vol. 28, 2008, p. 805-830

This article reports an analysis of European Community Household Panel data to test the hypotheses that home ownership offers protection against poverty in later life, and that when individuals own their own homes they can get by on smaller pensions. The analysis confirmed that at the individual level, being a home owner effectively shielded older people from different forms of poverty. However, the findings raised several issues for discussion and further research. Firstly, it was found that neither generous pensions nor high ownership rates had the strongest poverty reducing potential, which was most strongly associated with the provision of social housing for older people. Secondly, the analysis identified a group of older people who are faced with a double disadvantage. In high home ownership countries, those not on the property ladder also tended to receive low pension benefits.

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