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Six Pillars of Social Policy: The State of Pensions and Health Care in Canada

In: The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater

Listed author(s):
  • William B. P. Robson

William B.P. Robson, a co-author with David Slater of a series of papers on pension issues, has written an ambitious survey of the state of Canadian economic policy in the areas of pensions and health care. He argues that it is appropriate to tackle both issues in the same paper because they are both major spending programs strongly related to the life cycle of Canadians, and face challenges arising from the aging of the population. Robson notes that the pension debate uses the metaphor of three pillars to describe a comprehensive pension system: a safety net to guard against destitution in old age; a mandatory employment-related system to provide basic replacement income; and a voluntary system supported by provisions that reduce the double-taxation of saving. The main elements of public policy related to pensions in Canada cover these pillars. He recognizes that all three of the pillars cannot be directly applied to health care, but he argues that the three-pillar metaphor is still a fruitful perspective because it facilitates constructive responses to the pressures confronting Canada’s health system and illuminates interactions between the pension and health systems. Hence his title “six pillars of social policy”. Based on his examination of Canada’s pension and health-care systems, Robson makes a number of recommendations. First, he advocates more prefunding in both the pension and health areas to cover the future cost of the aging baby-boom cohort. Second, he recommends a gradual increase in the normal age of eligibility for pension benefits. Third, he recommends the creation of a second pillar, a mandatory contribution scheme in the health area as a way to avoid the development of a means-tested system that would exacerbate the disincentives to work and save. Fourth, he puts forward the idea of a new type of saving vehicle that provides tax-relief on distributions rather than on contributions so that Canadians can avoid the high marginal effective tax rates associated with means-tested programs.

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This chapter was published in: Patrick Grady & Andrew Sharpe (ed.) The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, pages 183-224, 2001.
This item is provided by Centre for the Study of Living Standards in its series The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater with number 09.
Handle: RePEc:sls:secfds:09
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References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

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  1. Douglas W. Elmendorf & Louise M. Sheiner, 2000. "Should America Save for Its Old Age? Fiscal Policy, Population Aging, and National Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 57-74, Summer.
  2. Evans, R.G. & Lomas, J. & Barer, M.A. & Labelle, R.J. & Fooks, C. & Stoddart, G.L. & Anderson, G.M. & Feeny, D. & Gafni, A. & Torrance, G.W. & Tholl, W.G., 1989. "Controlling Health Expenditures- The Canadian Reality," Centre for Health Services and Policy Research 89:11r, University of British Columbia - Centre for Health Services and Policy Research..
  3. Boadway, Robin & Keen, Michael, 2000. "Redistribution," Handbook of Income Distribution,in: A.B. Atkinson & F. Bourguignon (ed.), Handbook of Income Distribution, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 12, pages 677-789 Elsevier.
  4. René Morissette & Marie Drolet, 2001. "Pension coverage and retirement savings of young and prime-aged workers in Canada, 1986-1997," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(1), pages 100-119, February.
  5. Lars Osberg, 2001. "Poverty Among Senior Citizens: A Canadian Success Story," The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater,in: Patrick Grady & Andrew Sharpe (ed.), The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater, pages 151-181 Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
  6. Carlos Bethencourt & Vincenzo Galasso, "undated". "On the Political Complementarity between Health Care and Social Security," Working Papers 184, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  7. John Burbidge, 1996. "Public Pensions in Canada," Independence and Economic Security of the Older Population Research Papers 1, McMaster University.
  8. Jack M. Mintz, 2001. "Taxing Future Consumption," The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater,in: Patrick Grady & Andrew Sharpe (ed.), The State of Economics in Canada: Festschrift in Honour of David Slater, pages 79-94 Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
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