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Taking stock of pension reforms around the world


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  • Schwarz, Anita M.
  • Demirguc-Kunt, Asli


Countries around the world are reforming their pension systems. Most are reforming to reduce thefiscal costs of their existing pension systems. A few young countries are establishing new systems or are increasing the generosity of their current systems, although perhaps not always taking into account the future fiscal costs entailed in the increased generosity. The purpose of the paper is to provide a brief summary and evaluation of recent pension reforms around the world. Section 2 briefly discusses why so many countries had to reform in recent years. Section 3 describes different types of potential reform options. Section 4 provides statistics on which reform options the countries are choosing. Section 5 provides an evaluation of different reform options taking into account fiscal, intergenerational and political economy costs. The last section concludes that the only way to effectively solve the pension system issue on a permanent basis is to move toward the fully-funded defined contribution reforms currently underway in Latin America, Australia, Poland, and Kazakhstan under consideration in a variety of other countries.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Social Protection Discussion Papers with number 20533.

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Date of creation: 31 May 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:hdnspu:20533

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Keywords: Information Technology; Enterprise Development&Reform; Environmental Economics&Policies; Banks&Banking Reform; Pensions&Retirement Systems;


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Cited by:
  1. Srinivas, P.S. & Whitehouse, Edward & Yermo, Juan, 2000. "Regulating private pension funds’ structure, performance and investments: cross-country evidence," MPRA Paper 14753, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Yan Wang & Dianqing Xu & Zhi Wang & FanZhai, 2001. "Implicit pension debt, transition cost, options, and impact of China's pension reform : a computable general equilibrium analysis," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 2555, The World Bank.
  3. David Robalino, 2005. "Pensions in the Middle East and North Africa: Time for Change," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7427, August.
  4. Liina Kulu & Janno Reiljan, 2004. "Old-Age Pension Reform In Estonia On The Basis Of The World Bank’S Multi-Pillar Approach," University of Tartu - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Working Paper Series, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu (Estonia) 34, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu (Estonia).
  5. Angeliki Theophilopoulou, 2008. "The Impact of Structural Pension Reforms on the Macroeconomic Performance: An Empirical Analysis," Birkbeck Working Papers in Economics and Finance, Birkbeck, Department of Economics, Mathematics & Statistics 0806, Birkbeck, Department of Economics, Mathematics & Statistics.
  6. Staubli, Stefan & Zweimüller, Josef, 2013. "Does raising the early retirement age increase employment of older workers?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 17-32.
  7. Aiyer, Sri-Ram, 1997. "Pension reform in Latin America : quick fixes or sustainable reform?," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 1865, The World Bank.
  8. World Bank, 2003. "The Pension System in Iran : Challenges and Opportunities, Volume 1. Main Report," World Bank Other Operational Studies 14645, The World Bank.
  9. Robert Holzmann & Richard Hinz, 2005. "Old Age Income Support in the 21st century: An International Perspective on Pension Systems and Reform," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7336, August.
  10. Cerda, Luis & Grandolini & Grandolini, Gloria, 1998. "The 1997 pension reform in Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series, The World Bank 1933, The World Bank.
  11. Robert Holzmann & Robert Palacios & Asta Zviniene, 2001. "On the Economics and Scope of Implicit Pension Debt: An International Perspective," Empirica, Springer, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 97-129, March.
  12. Olivia S. Mitchell & Flavio Ataliba Barreto, 1997. "After Chile, What? Second-Round Pension Reforms in Latin America," NBER Working Papers 6316, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. World Bank, 2004. "Kazakhstan - The New Pensions in Kazakhstan : Challenges in Making the Transition," World Bank Other Operational Studies 14362, The World Bank.
  14. James Obben & Monique Waayer, 2011. "New Zealand's old-age pension scheme and household saving," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 38(9), pages 767-788, August.
  15. Hénin, Pierre-Yves & Weitzenblum, Thomas, 2003. "Redistribution through alternative pension reforms: A life-cycle analysis on French occupational groups," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 0307, CEPREMAP.
  16. Olivia S. Mitchell, . "Developments in Pensions," Pension Research Council Working Papers, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania 98-4, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  17. Olivia S. Mitchell, . "Evaluating Administrative Costs in Mexico's AFORES Pension System," Pension Research Council Working Papers, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania 99-1, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.


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