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Reforming pensions : myths, truths, and policy choices

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  • Nicholas Barr
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    Abstract

    This paper discusses the building blocks of pension reform in the light of economic theory, and their application to different types of economy. The opening section sets out the simple economics of pensions. The second section discusses a series of myths which have proved remarkably persistent. Building on this analysis, the latter part of the paper sets out the foundations of effective pensions policy. The third section discusses the prerequisites which any pension reform must respect, i.e. those things which policy advisers can – and should – assert authoritatively. The fourth section turns to the range of choices facing policymakers, drawing on the very different arrangements in different countries. The main conclusions are threefold: 1. The key variable is effective government. 2. From an economic perspective, the difference between Pay-As-You-Go and funding is second order. 3. The range of potential choice over pension design is wide. One size does not fit all.

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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/286/
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 286.

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    Date of creation: Apr 2002
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    Publication status: Published in International Social Security Review, April, 2002, 55(2), pp. 3-36. ISSN: 0020-871X
    Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:286

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    1. Agulnik, Phil, 2000. "Maintaining Incomes after Work: Do Compulsory Earnings-Related Pensions Make Sense?," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 45-56, Spring.
    2. Pascal Belan & Pierre Pestieau, 1999. "Privatizing Social Security: A Critical Assessment," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 24(1), pages 114-130, January.
    3. Barr, Nicholas, 2001. "The Welfare State as Piggy Bank: Information, Risk, Uncertainty, and the Role of the State," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199246595, Octomber.
    4. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1987. "Introduction to "Issues in Pension Economics"," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in Pension Economics, pages 1-12 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Thomas F. Cooley & Jorge Soares, 1999. "A Positive Theory of Social Security Based on Reputation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 135-160, February.
    6. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1988. "Pensions in the U.S. Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi88-1, July.
    7. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1987. "Issues in Pension Economics," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi87-1, July.
    8. Jonathan Gruber & David A. Wise, 1999. "Introduction to "Social Security and Retirement around the World"," NBER Chapters, in: Social Security and Retirement around the World, pages 1-35 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Jonathan Gruber & David A. Wise, 1999. "Social Security and Retirement around the World," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number grub99-1, July.
    10. Feldstein, Martin, 1996. "The Missing Piece in Policy Analysis: Social Security Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 1-14, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. René Weber & David S. Gerber, 2007. "Aging, Asset Allocation, and Costs," IMF Working Papers 07/29, International Monetary Fund.
    2. "Takayama, Noriyuki", 2005. "Pension Reform of PRC : ―Incentives, Governance and Policy Options―," Economic Review, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 56(4), pages 289-303, January.
    3. Arza, Camila, 2008. "The Limits of Pension Privatization: Lessons from Argentine Experience," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 2696-2712, December.

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