Rethinking pension reforms in the wake of the financial crisis
The recent financial crisis has called into question the very grounds of pension reforms in Europe, in particular the "risk diversification" rationale for creating a privately funded pillar, based on financial returns, alongside the public one, established on an intragenerational pact. A verdict of "failure" of the pension market would be, however, both untimely and misleading. Conditions do exist for financial markets to become a significant, profitable and sustainable complement to the public system. For this purpose, trust and reliability features in supplementary pensions should be strengthened, and individuals (workers/families) should be enabled, also through programs of financial education, to take adequate and informed (if not optimal) decisions on the accumulation of retirement saving. While improvements are also desirable in asset management techniques, benefit guarantees, their structure, cost and burden can no longer be neglected. While the crisis is a cause of serious distress, it can also be a source of new opportunities, not to be missed. This would indeed happen if a pure and simple return to the past social security model should prevail.
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