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Reforming Pensions

Author

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  • Nicholas Barr
  • Peter Diamond

Abstract

This article, based on two books (Barr and Diamond 2008, forthcoming), sets out a series of principles for pension design rooted in economic theory: pension systems have multiple objectives, analysis should consider the pension system as a whole, analysis should be framed in a second-best context, different systems share risks differently, and systems have different effects by generation and by gender. That discussion is reinforced by identification of a series of widespread analytical errors: tunnel vision, improper use of first-best analysis, improper use of steady-state analysis, incomplete analysis of implicit pension debt, incomplete analysis of the impact of funding (including excessive focus on financial flows, failure to consider how funding is generated, and improper focus on the type of asset in trust funds), and ignoring distributional effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicholas Barr & Peter Diamond, 2008. "Reforming Pensions," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2008-26, Center for Retirement Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwps:wp2008-26
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    File URL: http://crr.bc.edu/working-papers/reforming-pensions/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert Holzmann & Richard Hinz, 2005. "Old Age Income Support in the 21st century: An International Perspective on Pension Systems and Reform," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7336.
    2. John Beshears & James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian, 2009. "The Importance of Default Options for Retirement Saving Outcomes: Evidence from the United States," NBER Chapters,in: Social Security Policy in a Changing Environment, pages 167-195 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages 164-187, February.
    4. Diamond, Peter A., 2002. "Social Security Reform," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199247899.
    5. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2001. "Defined Contribution Pensions: Plan Rules, Participant Decisions, and the Path of Least Resistance," NBER Working Papers 8655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Loewenstein, George & Ubel, Peter A., 2008. "Hedonic adaptation and the role of decision and experience utility in public policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1795-1810, August.
    7. Martin Feldstein, 2005. "Structural Reform of Social Security," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 33-55, Spring.
    8. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2001. "The Power of Suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) Participation and Savings Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1149-1187.
    9. Waldo Tapia & Juan Yermo, 2007. "Implications of Behavioural Economics for Mandatory Individual Account Pension Systems," OECD Working Papers on Insurance and Private Pensions 11, OECD Publishing.
    10. Feldstein, Martin, 2005. "Structural Reform of Social Security," Scholarly Articles 2794830, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Simonovits, András, 2015. "Hogyan hat a nyugdíjszabályok hiányos ismerete a dolgozók döntéseire?
      [How does imperfect knowledge of pension rules affect workers decisions?]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(3), pages 263-283.
    2. Anna Z¹bkowicz, 2016. "A Paradox Of Reforming Pensions In Poland," Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, Institute of Economic Research, vol. 11(3), pages 585-602, September.
    3. Danzer, Alexander M., 2010. "Retirement Responses to a Generous Pension Reform: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Eastern Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 4726, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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