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Are Aging OECD Welfare States on the Path to Gerontocracy?

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  • TEPE, MARKUS
  • VANHUYSSE, PIETER

Abstract

Since 1990 the age of the average OECD median voter has increased three times faster than in the preceding 30 years. We use panel data from 1980–2002 to investigate the effects of population aging on both the program size and the benefit generosity of public pensions in 18 OECD countries. Population aging is accompanied by cutting smaller slices out of larger cakes: it increases aggregate spending on pensions but freezes or decreases the generosity of individual benefits. Controlling for political, institutional and time-period effects, we find that public pension efforts are significantly mediated by welfare regime type. Moreover, since the late 1980s pension effort has more fully adopted a retrenchment logic. It is the politics of fiscal and electoral straitjackets, not gerontocracy, which shape public pension spending today. While population aging is accelerating, contrary to alarmist political economy predictions democracies are not yet dominated by a new distributive politics of elderly power.

Suggested Citation

  • Tepe, Markus & Vanhuysse, Pieter, 2009. "Are Aging OECD Welfare States on the Path to Gerontocracy?," Journal of Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(1), pages 1-28, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jnlpup:v:29:y:2009:i:01:p:1-28_00
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:zbw:rwirep:0557 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Gál, Róbert Iván & Vanhuysse, Pieter & Vargha, Lili, 2016. "Pro-elderly welfare states within pro-child societies : Incorporating family cash and time into intergenerational transfers analysis," CEI Working Paper Series 2016-6, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    3. Philipp Jäger & Torsten Schmidt, 2015. "The Political Economy of Public Investment when Population is Aging – A Panel Cointegration Analysis," Ruhr Economic Papers 0557, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    4. Jäger, Philipp & Schmidt, Torsten, 2016. "The political economy of public investment when population is aging: A panel cointegration analysis," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 145-158.
    5. Niklas Potrafke, 2012. "Is German domestic social policy politically controversial?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 153(3), pages 393-418, December.
    6. repec:bla:kyklos:v:70:y:2017:i:2:p:256-277 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Gianko Michailidis & Concepció Patxot, 2018. "Political viability of intergenerational transfers. An empirical application," UB Economics Working Papers 2018/370, Universitat de Barcelona, Facultat d'Economia i Empresa, UB Economics.
    8. Louis Chauvel & Martin Schröder, 2014. "Generational Inequalities and Welfare Regimes," LIS Working papers 606, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.

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