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

Out-liberalizing the EU: pension privatization in Central and Eastern Europe

M.A. Orenstein

Journal of European Public Policy, vol.15, 2008, p. 899-917

The pension privatisation trend that swept Central and Eastern Europe between 1998 and 2004 presents a conundrum when viewed from the perspective of EU enlargement. While these reforms took place during the EU accession process, the EU did not use membership conditionality to impose them. The trend towards full or partial replacement of pay-as-you-go pension schemes with ones based on private individual pension savings accounts was set in motion by a transnational policy campaign led by the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development. Central and East European states did not seek to replicate EU pension systems, but to surpass them by adopting more 'modern' policy advice from the World Bank and USAID.

Pension norms and pension reforms in Europe

P.R.H. Frericks and R.M. Maier

Community, Work and Family, vol. 11, 2008, p. 253-271

Various reforms to pension systems in the EU15 countries over the past two decades have explicitly aimed to improve women's opportunities to build up pension entitlements. These reforms differ from country to country. We see work-life balance policies aimed at increasing women's labour market participation by facilitating part-time employment and pension credits covering periods spent outside the labour market caring for family members. However, women's pensions still do not equal men's because they work in lower paid jobs and because they are unable to invest in private pension schemes during their time as unpaid carers. Most systems, to varying degrees, continue to work with traditional family and gender role concepts as far as political measures, labour market structures and calculation norms (including entitlements and taxes) are concerned.

Shifts in public-private provision of retirement income: a four-country comparison

B. Gran

Research on Aging, vol.30, 3008, p. 507-542

This article examines retirement income programmes in Belgium, Canada, Denmark and New Zealand from 1980 to 1995 to evaluate the components of pension provision, public and private, that were or were not protected from cuts in an era of welfare state retrenchment. It identifies four trends: 1) the increasing importance of paid work in the determination of retirement income; 2) a change in the state's role from direct provision of pensions to regulation and supervision of private schemes; 3) a shift in focus from lowering income inequality to low-income sustenance; and 4) groups excluded from well-paid, secure jobs becoming dependent on means-tested state help.

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