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

Extending coverage under the Argentinian pension system: distribution of access and prospects for universal coverage

C. Arza

International Social Security Review, vol.65, no.2, 2012, p. 29-49

High levels of informal work have been the major obstacle preventing the extension of social security systems in Latin America. In Argentina, this problem became more acute during the structural reform of the 1990s that consolidated contributory access, reinforcing the direct link between personal contributions and benefits. In a labour market with high levels of informality, the application of stricter contributory requirements led to a steady reduction in coverage for seniors. This situation changed as a result of the implementation, from 2005 onwards, of a number of measures to provide access to benefits for people who had contributed little, or who were unable to meet the minimum contribution requirements for an ordinary pension. The programme allocated benefits to nearly 2.5 million new beneficiaries and the coverage of the population of retirement age increased from 62% to 85% between 2005 and 2010.

The historical roots of a diffusion process: the three-pillar doctrine and European pension debates (1972-1994)

M. Leimgruber

Global Social Policy, vol. 12, 2012, p. 24-44

This article presents a critical examination of the national roots and international diffusion of the idea of pension pillarization. Brought to prominence in 1994 by the World Bank report Averting the old age crisis, this doctrine advocates the combination of basic state-based pay-as-you-go pensions (first pillar) and funded occupational and individual supplements (second and third pillars). This analysis reveals the Swiss origins of the doctrine during the 1960s and its gradual adoption and mainstreaming during the 1970s and early 1980s by a transnational community of life insurers and pension consultants. By 1990 the doctrine was widely used without reference to its national origins in Switzerland.

Implicit debt in public sector pension plans: an international comparison

E. Ponds, C. Severinson and J. Yermo

International Social Security Review, vol. 65, no.2, 2012, p. 75-101

Pension promises for government workers are a major policy challenge for four reasons. First, the state is usually the largest employer in the country and hence faces huge commitments to provide pensions for its employees. Secondly, these pension promises, often in the form of defined benefit plans, tend to be relatively generous. Thirdly, in some countries these pension plans are unfunded, or paid directly from government revenues (the PAYG financing mechanism). Fourthly, there is as yet no international standardised method of reporting public sector pension liabilities. The valuation and disclosure of these promises is, all too often, less than transparent, which may hide potentially huge fiscal liabilities to be passed on to future generations of workers. This article recommends that unfunded pension liabilities should be measured and reported according to a standard approach for reasons of fiscal transparency and better policymaking.

Labour market flexibility and pension reforms: flexible today, secure tomorrow?

K. Hinrichs M. Jessoula (editors)

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012

Increasingly flexible labour markets and reforms of old-age pension systems are still ranking high on the political agenda of European countries. This volume investigates whether, and to what extent, the interplay between pension reforms and the spread of 'atypical' employment patterns and fragmented careers has a negative influence upon economic security in old age. The volume, therefore, analyzes the flexibility-security nexus by focusing on the post-retirement phase, thus extending the conventional narrow concept of 'flexicurity'. Around this overarching research question, the various contributions in the volume employ the same analytical framework in order to map, and then compare, the developments in seven European countries - Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, and the UK - which present different labour market arrangements and various degrees of flexibility, as well as diverse pension systems.

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