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Savings In Times Of Demographic Change: Lessons From The German Experience

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  • Axel Börsch-Supan
  • Tabea Bucher-Koenen
  • Michela Coppola
  • Bettina Lamla

Abstract

Pension reforms in many developed countries make individuals shoulder a bigger share of longevity and income risks. The desired response is that individuals accumulate private assets for retirement. Whether this actually takes place, is of paramount relevance for scientists and policy makers. We take Germany as an example: Twenty years of pension reform have transformed the monolithic German pension system into a multipillar system. Formerly generous public pension benefits are gradually being reduced, whereas substantial incentives are granted to occupational and private saving schemes. Has this transition worked out? We survey the reform steps and households’ reactions: How did individuals adjust their labor market behavior? How did private and occupational pension plans take off? How do behavioral adjustments vary in the population? Most Germans adapted to the new situation. Both actual and expected retirement decisions changed and the share of households without supplementary pensions decreased from 73% to 39% in little more than a decade. This is a remarkable success. Nonetheless, households with low education, low income and less financial education did neither adjust their retirement behavior nor pick up supplementary pension plans and are thus likely to face difficulties in bridging the gap arising in future pension income.

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  • Axel Börsch-Supan & Tabea Bucher-Koenen & Michela Coppola & Bettina Lamla, 2015. "Savings In Times Of Demographic Change: Lessons From The German Experience," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 807-829, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jecsur:v:29:y:2015:i:4:p:807-829
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    2. Ihle, Dorothee, 2017. "Quantile treatment effects of Riester participation on wealth," CAWM Discussion Papers 96, University of Münster, Center of Applied Economic Research Münster (CAWM).
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    4. Dolls, Mathias & Doerrenberg, Philipp & Peichl, Andreas & Stichnoth, Holger, 2016. "Do savings increase in response to salient information about retirement and expected pensions?," ZEW Discussion Papers 16-059, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    5. Volker Grossmann & Holger Strulik, 2015. "Optimal Social Insurance and Health Inequality," CESifo Working Paper Series 5604, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Crusius, Tobias L. & von Werder, Marten, 2017. "The affluency to quit: How inheritances affect retirement plannings," Discussion Papers 2017/24, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    7. Börsch-Supan, Axel & Bucher-Koenen, Tabea & Goll, Nicolas & Maier, Christina, 2016. "15 Jahre Riester - eine Bilanz," Working Papers 12/2016, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung.
    8. Börsch-Supan, Axel, 2015. "Lehren aus den Rentenreformen seit 1972," MEA discussion paper series 201428, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    9. Dorothee Ihle, 2017. "Quantile Treatment Effects of Riester Participation on Wealth," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 954, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    10. Axel Börsch-Supan & Christopher Quinn, 2015. "Taxing Pensions and Retirement Benefits in Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 5636, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Börsch-Supan, A. & Härtl, K. & Leite, D.N., 2016. "Social Security and Public Insurance," Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, Elsevier.
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    15. Börsch-Supan, Axel & Quinn, Christopher, 2015. "Taxing pensions and retirement benefits in Germany," MEA discussion paper series 201510, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    16. Dolls, Mathias & Doerrenberg, Philipp & Peichl, Andreas & Stichnoth, Holger, 2018. "Do retirement savings increase in response to information about retirement and expected pensions?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 168-179.
    17. Börsch-Supan, Axel & Bucher-Koenen, Tabea & Ferrari, Irene & Kutlu Koc, Vesile & Rausch, Johannes, 1970. "The Development of the Pension Gap and German Households’ Saving Behavior," MEA discussion paper series 201602, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.

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    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance

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