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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2012): Pensions - overseas

Economic system and welfare regime dynamics in Japan since the early 2000s: the case of occupational pensions

H. Conrad

Journal of Social Policy, vol. 41, 2012, p. 119-140

This article discusses significant changes in Japanese occupational pensions since the early 2000s. The analysis shows that these schemes have been key components of policies to promote private welfare provision and have been highly compatible with human capital investment strategies that are based on long-term employment relationships of regular workers. However, since the 1990s occupational pensions have come under increased pressure due to underfunding problems caused by depressed stock markets and changes in accounting standards. In response to these challenges, Japanese companies restructured their occupational pension arrangements. The nature of these efforts can be explained with reference to existing institutional complementarities with the economic system on the one hand and changes in social actors' cost-benefit calculations on the other hand. Whereas complementarities, especially with human resource management factors, have ultimately defined the limits of these changes, an actor-centred analysis can help to explain the particular nature of changes within these boundaries.

Have pension plans changed after the introduction of IFRS?

L. Swinkels

Pensions, vol. 16, 2011, p. 244-255

With Regulation EC 1601/2002, the European Union decided that all listed companies had to apply the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) for annual accounts starting on or after 1 January 2005. This article investigates whether the introduction of the new standards influences the choice of pension schemes Dutch companies offer their employees. The research shows that several companies have switched from a traditional defined benefit scheme to a defined contribution scheme. In many cases, the annual reports of the pension funds and their sponsoring companies state that the introduction of IFRS was the main reason for the switch.

Welfare systems and the adequacy of pension benefits in Europe

O. Gough and R. Adami

Social Policy and Society, vol.11, 2012, p. 41-53

This research examined the link between the mix of public and private pensions and the adequacy of retirement incomes in Europe, using the SHARE and ELSA databases. Although private pensions are well established in countries of Beveridgean tradition (namely the UK, the Netherlands and Denmerk), France and Sweden also present high private scheme coverage. High private pension coverage together with long-term contributions have the positive effect of increasing pension incomes for vast portions of the population as well as reducing the risk of poverty in retirement. In contrast, in some Bismarckian countries (Germany, Austria and Belgium), the proportions of pensioners drawing some of their retirement income from private sources are considerably lower. In those countries, those with private pensions are also likely to be in receipt of high state benefits, which suggests lack of support for any crowding out effects between private and public benefits. In Italy, Spain and Greece, the numbers of those receiving private pensions are negligible. Retired people rely almost entirely on state pensions, and this may account for the high rates of those at risk of poverty.

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