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Population Aging and the Rising Cost of Public Pensions

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  • John Bongaarts

Abstract

Rapid population aging is raising concerns about the sustainability of public pension systems in high-income countries. The first part of this study identifies the four factors that determine trends in public pension expenditures: population aging, pension benefit levels, the mean age at retirement, and the labor force participation rate. The second part presents projections to 2050 of the impact of demographic trends on public pension expenditures in the absence of changes in pension benefits, labor force participation, and age at retirement. These projections demonstrate that current trends are unsustainable, because without reforms population aging will produce an unprecedented and harmful accumulation of public debt. A number of projection variants assess the potential impact of policy options aimed at improving the sustainability of public pension systems. Although the conventional responses are considered, particular attention is given to the demographic options of encouraging higher fertility and permitting more immigration. This analysis is illustrated with data from the seven largest OECD countries. Copyright 2004 The Population Council, Inc..

Suggested Citation

  • John Bongaarts, 2004. "Population Aging and the Rising Cost of Public Pensions," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 30(1), pages 1-23.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:30:y:2004:i:1:p:1-23
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Richard Jackson, 2002. "The Global Retirement Crisis," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 27(4), pages 486-511, October.
    2. Jonathan Gruber & David A. Wise, 1999. "Social Security and Retirement around the World," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number grub99-1, April.
    3. 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.
    4. Martin Feldstein & Horst Siebert, 2002. "Social Security Pension Reform in Europe," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feld02-2, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Verbič, Miroslav & Spruk, Rok, 2011. "Aging population and public pensions: theory and evidence," MPRA Paper 38914, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Koissi, Marie-Claire & Shapiro, Arnold F. & Hognas, Goran, 2006. "Evaluating and extending the Lee-Carter model for mortality forecasting: Bootstrap confidence interval," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 1-20, February.
    3. Francesco C. Billari & Vincenzo Galasso, 2008. "What Explains Fertility? Evidence from Italian Pension Reforms," CSEF Working Papers 209, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    4. Melnikov, Alexander & Romaniuk, Yulia, 2006. "Evaluating the performance of Gompertz, Makeham and Lee-Carter mortality models for risk management with unit-linked contracts," Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 310-329, December.
    5. Aggarwal, Raj & Goodell, John W., 2013. "Political-economy of pension plans: Impact of institutions, gender, and culture," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1860-1879.
    6. Fanny A. Kluge & Emilio Zagheni & Elke Loichinger & Tobias C. Vogt, 2014. "The advantages of demographic change after the wave: fewer and older, but healthier, greener, and more productive?," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2014-003, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    7. Luca MARCHIORI & Olivier PIERRARD & Henri R. SNEESSENS, 2011. "Demography, capital flows and unemployment," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2011040, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    8. Miroslav Verbič & Rok Spruk, 2014. "Aging Population and Public Pensions: Theory and Macroeconometric Evidence," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 61(3), pages 289-316, June.
    9. Jack DeWaard & James Raymer, 2012. "The temporal dynamics of international migration in Europe: Recent trends," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 26(21), pages 543-592, June.
    10. repec:eee:joecag:v:5:y:2015:i:c:p:7-13 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Mehmet F. Aysan & Roderic Beaujot, 2009. "Welfare Regimes for Aging Populations: No Single Path for Reform," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 35(4), pages 701-720.
    12. repec:eee:joecag:v:9:y:2017:i:c:p:1-13 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Shogo Kudo & Emmanuel Mutisya & Masafumi Nagao, 2015. "Population Aging: An Emerging Research Agenda for Sustainable Development," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(4), pages 1-27, October.
    14. Jack DeWaard & Keuntae Kim & James Raymer, 2012. "Migration Systems in Europe: Evidence From Harmonized Flow Data," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(4), pages 1307-1333, November.
    15. repec:kap:jfamec:v:39:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10834-017-9548-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. David Backus & Thomas Cooley & Espen Henriksen, 2013. "Demography and Low-Frequency Capital Flows," NBER Chapters,in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2013, pages 94-102 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Libich, Jan & Nguyen, Dat Thanh & Stehlík, Petr, 2015. "Monetary exit and fiscal spillovers," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PA), pages 184-206.
    18. Kalseth, Jorid & Halvorsen, Thomas & Kalseth, Birgitte & Sarheim Anthun, Kjartan & Peltola, Mikko & Kautiainen, Kirsi & Häkkinen, Unto & Medin, Emma & Lundgren, Jonatan & Rehnberg, Clas & Másdóttir, B, 2014. "Cross-country comparisons of health-care costs: The case of cancer treatment in the Nordic countries," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 172-179.

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