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When the State Mirrors the Family: The Design of Pension Systems

  • Galasso, Vincenzo
  • Profeta, Paola

We study how the prevailing internal organization of the family affected the initial design of pension systems. Our theoretical framework predicts that, in society with weak family ties, pensions systems were introduced to act as a safety net, while in societies with strong ties they replicate the tight link between generations by providing generous benefits. Using a historical classification of family ties, we show that in societies dominated by (weak ties) absolute nuclear families (e.g. Anglo-Saxon countries), safety net pension systems emerged; and vice versa in societies dominated by strong families. These results are robust to controlling for alternative legal, religious, and political explanations. Evidence on individual data confirm these findings: US citizens whose ancestors came from countries featuring strong ties (communitarian or egalitarian nuclear) families prefer to rely on the government as a provider of old age security through generous retirement benefits.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8723.

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Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8723
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  1. Alberto Alesina & Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc & null null, 2015. "Family Values and the Regulation of Labor," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/20g3idj0jd9, Sciences Po.
  2. Elizabeth M. Caucutt & Thomas F. Cooley & Nezih Guner, 2007. "The Farm, the City, and the Emergence of Social Security," NBER Working Papers 12854, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gilles Duranton & Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Richard Sandall, 2008. "Family types and the persistence of regional disparities in Europe," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 33152, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Disney, Richard, 2007. "Population ageing and the size of the welfare state: Is there a puzzle to explain?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 542-553, June.
  5. Fernández, Raquel & Fogli, Alessandra, 2005. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work and Fertility," CEPR Discussion Papers 5089, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Galasso, Vincenzo & Gatti, Roberta & Profeta, Paola, 2008. "Investing for the old age : pensions, children and savings," Social Protection Discussion Papers 47101, The World Bank.
  7. Vincenzo Galasso & Paola Profeta, 2004. "Lessons for an ageing society: the political sustainability of social security systems," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 19(38), pages 63-115, 04.
  8. Cutler, David & Johnson, Richard, 2004. "The Birth and Growth of the Social Insurance State: Explaining Old-Age and Medical Insurance Across Countries," Scholarly Articles 2643658, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Paola Profeta, 2007. "The Redistributive Design of Social Security Systems," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(520), pages 686-712, 04.
  10. Amir N. Licht & Chanan Goldschmidt & Shalom H. Schwartz, 2003. "Culture Rules: The Foundations of the Rule of Law and Other Norms of Governance," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-605, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  11. repec:crr:crrwps:2004-07 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Tim Krieger & Stefan Traub, 2008. "Back to Bismarck? Shifting Preferences for Intragenerational Redistribution in OECD Pension Systems," Working Papers CIE 13, University of Paderborn, CIE Center for International Economics.
  13. Marko Koethenbuerger & Panu Poutvaara & Paola Profeta, 2005. "Why are More Redistributive Social Security Systems Smaller? A Median Voter Approach," CESifo Working Paper Series 1397, CESifo Group Munich.
  14. Vincenzo Galasso, 2008. "The Political Future of Social Security in Aging Societies," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026257246x, June.
  15. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521855266 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. David M. Cutler & Richard Johnson, 2004. "The Birth and Growth of the Social Insurance State: Explaining Old Age and Medical Insurance Across Countries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 120(1_2), pages 87-121, 07.
  17. Alberto Alesina & Paola Giuliano, 2007. "The Power of the Family," NBER Working Papers 13051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Pinotti Paolo, 2009. "Financial Development and Pay-As-You-Go Social Security," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-21, March.
  19. Lindert Peter H., 1994. "The Rise of Social Spending, 1880-1930," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 1-37, January.
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