Poor Old Grandmas? A Note on the Gender Dimension of Pension Reforms
In the face of rapid population ageing, most OECD countries have undergone or are considering substantial reforms of their pension systems. This paper investigates the outcomes of a process of gender-blind pension reform, that is designing a pension system assuming an idealised (a-gendered) worker/consumer. The paper specifically deals with the case of Italy, in light of the extraordinary high number of pension reforms that took place there, and of their far-reaching and highly representative nature. We find that recent reforms in Italy have not been gender-neutral. Rather, starting from a situation providing strong incentives towards women’s commitment to unpaid work, reforms in 1990s tried to establish equal treatment of women and men, removing households’ financial gains from having only women doing all the unpaid work. Unfortunately, the short-run implications of this policy may be seriously worrying, as women may have not enough time to accumulate a decent pension annuity. A temporary counter-balancing policy may be needed if we are to avoid women’s poverty and dependence in old age. However, the most recent reform reversed the virtuous trend by establishing new positive discriminations in the eligibility criteria, thus preventing household’s expectations from departing from the old division of social roles.
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