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Welfare reform on the Web (February 2007): Pensions - overseas

The “crisis” in defined benefit corporate pension liabilities. Part 1. Scope of the problem

G.L. Clark and A.H.B. Monk

Pensions, vol.12, 2006, p.43-54

Defined benefit pensions are present-day corporate burdens, inherited from a past generation of employees and managers that, in severe cases, jeopardise the very solvency of their sponsoring firms. Direct benefit schemes constrain firm renewal and renovation necessary for success in the global economy. This paper surveys the nature and significance of the problem, focusing upon UK and US private employer sponsored plans. It is suggested that the looming underfunding crisis was apparent, for those willing to look, a decade ago. Its significance was papered over by the 1990s stock market bubble and high interest rates, but has returned due to asset management, actuarial and accounting shortcomings.

Pension reforms and old people in Poland: an age, class and gender lens

A.M. Zajicek, T.M. Calasanti and E.K. Zajicek

Journal of Aging Studies, vol.21, 2007, p.55-68

This paper considers the future ramifications of the Polish pension reforms for the economic well being of different groups of people. It argues that class-advantaged, middle-aged and young men are likely to emerge as the main beneficiaries of the pension reforms, since benefits are largely linked to participation in the formal labour market and earnings levels. Old women now, and young women in the future, will bear the brunt of the changes, as will low-waged men. Retired people in Poland attract little public sympathy as they are depicted by government as taking jobs, housing and social assistance away from the young. They are depicted as the least needy social group and are made scapegoats for budget cuts.

Reactions to social security retirement reform proposals in the United States

F.W. Becker

International Social Security Review, vol.60, Jan. - Mar. 2007, p. 101-114

The designers of the social security retirement programme in the USA intended it to be a mandatory insurance scheme in which revenues and outlays were balanced on an actuarially sound basis and which would be fully funded from payroll taxes. However it is predicted that by 2018 outlays will begin to exceed revenues. In response President George W. Bush proposed in 2004 that changes should be made to the Social Security benefit indexing method and that individual retirement accounts should be established. These reforms were rejected by the public. However, the legacy of the debate is that new limitations have been placed on future options for dealing with Social Security’s financial difficulties.

Social security pensionable ages in OECD countries: 1949-2035

J. Turner

International Social Security Review, vol.60, Jan. - Mar. 2007, p.81-99

This paper examines the early retirement age policy of pension schemes in 23 OECD countries over the years 1949-2035. The policies for future years are those in current law, with some current law not being fully effective until 2035. The results show a pattern of falling early retirement ages which reversed in the 1990s. Many countries have raised the minimum age for retirement since the beginning of that decade, though generally with future effective dates.

The tale of two pension reforms: a US-Japan comparison

E. Huh and S. McLellan

Pensions, vol.12, 2006, p.33-42

This article compares the trajectory of reform of company pension schemes in the USA and Japan in the face of population ageing, changes to international accounting standards, and political interventions.

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