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The determinants of savings in the third pension pillar


  • P. Stinglhamber

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

  • M.-D. Zachary

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

  • G. Wuyts

    (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Department of Accountancy, Finance and Insurance)

  • Ch. Valenduc

    (Federal Public Service Finance, Research and Documentation Department)


The paper analyses participation in and contributions to the third pillar of the pension system by Belgian households. This pillar represents individual saving for retirement and has been growing rapidly. A detailed dataset of tax declarations over the period from 1993 until 2003 was used to analyse the possible determinants of saving in the third pillar. Firstly, this dataset makes an analysis from a macroeconomic point of view possible, showing an apparent increase in total contributions to the third pillar by 39 p.c. in real terms between 1993 and 2003. This increase is mainly due to a rise in the participation rate (29 p.c. in 1993 and 40 p.c. in 2003). A detailed analysis is provided across the age groups, which further shows the influence of the demographic evolution, the average income of the participants in the third pillar and the contribution rate. The dataset also helps point up a wide number of possible microeconomic determinants of saving for retirement, such as age, income, professional status, civil status, region of residence, property ownership, employment situation, participation in second pillar pension schemes, number of dependents, etc. Moreover, the database allows a distinction to be made between the two forms in the third pillar : pension saving and life insurance. From such a microeconomic point of view, the analysis sheds some light on the major determinants of participation to the third pillar. The main findings show that older households are more likely to opt for a third pillar pension scheme. Furthermore, it appears that households consider the two forms of the third pillar as being complementary rather than substitutes for each other : households that participate in pension saving schemes are also more likely to take out life insurance and vice versa. Besides age, the other determinants that have a positive impact on participation in the third pillar of the pension system are : having higher income, being self-employed, getting an early retirement pension, being a home owner, being married and living in Flanders rather than Brussels or Wallonia.

Suggested Citation

  • P. Stinglhamber & M.-D. Zachary & G. Wuyts & Ch. Valenduc, 2007. "The determinants of savings in the third pension pillar," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue iii, pages 97-113, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbb:ecrart:y:2007:m:december:i:iii:p:97-113

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Oecd, 2006. "Improving Financial Literacy: Analysis of Issues and Policies," Financial Market Trends, OECD Publishing, vol. 2005(2), pages 111-123.
    2. B. Douglas Bernheim & Daniel M. Garrett, 1996. "The Determinants and Consequences of Financial Education in the Workplace: Evidence from a Survey of Households," NBER Working Papers 5667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item


    personal finance; pension fund; life insurance; private pensions;

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions


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