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Reforming pensions : myths, truths, and policy choices

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  • Barr, Nicholas

Abstract

This paper discusses the building blocks of pension reform in the light of economic theory, and their application to different types of economy. The opening section sets out the simple economics of pensions. The second section discusses a series of myths which have proved remarkably persistent. Building on this analysis, the latter part of the paper sets out the foundations of effective pensions policy. The third section discusses the prerequisites which any pension reform must respect, i.e. those things which policy advisers can – and should – assert authoritatively. The fourth section turns to the range of choices facing policymakers, drawing on the very different arrangements in different countries. The main conclusions are threefold: 1. The key variable is effective government. 2. From an economic perspective, the difference between Pay-As-You-Go and funding is second order. 3. The range of potential choice over pension design is wide. One size does not fit all.

Suggested Citation

  • Barr, Nicholas, 2002. "Reforming pensions : myths, truths, and policy choices," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 286, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:286
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/286/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Feldstein, Martin, 1996. "The Missing Piece in Policy Analysis: Social Security Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 1-14, May.
    2. Pascal Belan & Pierre Pestieau, 1999. "Privatizing Social Security: A Critical Assessment," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 24(1), pages 114-130, January.
    3. Barr, Nicholas, 2001. "The Welfare State as Piggy Bank: Information, Risk, Uncertainty, and the Role of the State," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199246595.
    4. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1987. "Issues in Pension Economics," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi87-1.
    5. Thomas F. Cooley & Jorge Soares, 1999. "A Positive Theory of Social Security Based on Reputation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 135-160, February.
    6. Agulnik, Phil, 2000. "Maintaining Incomes after Work: Do Compulsory Earnings-Related Pensions Make Sense?," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 45-56, Spring.
    7. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1988. "Pensions in the U.S. Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bodi88-1.
    8. Jonathan Gruber & David A. Wise, 1999. "Social Security and Retirement around the World," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number grub99-1.
    9. Jonathan Gruber & David A. Wise, 1999. "Introduction to "Social Security and Retirement around the World"," NBER Chapters,in: Social Security and Retirement around the World, pages 1-35 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Zvi Bodie & John B. Shoven & David A. Wise, 1987. "Introduction to "Issues in Pension Economics"," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in Pension Economics, pages 1-12 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Arza, Camila, 2008. "The Limits of Pension Privatization: Lessons from Argentine Experience," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 2696-2712, December.
    2. repec:bla:revinw:v:63:y:2017:i:1:p:70-94 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. S³awomir Czech, 2016. "Choice Overload Paradox And Public Policy Design. The Case Of Swedish Pension System," Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, Institute of Economic Research, vol. 11(3), pages 559-584, September.
    4. Martin Werding, 2016. "One Pillar Crumbling, the Others Too Short: Old-Age Provision in Germany," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 237(1), pages 13-21, August.
    5. Martin Stepanek, 2017. "Pension Reforms and Adverse Demographics: The Case of the Czech Republic," Working Papers IES 2017/15, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised Aug 2017.
    6. Lichtblau, Karl & Bähr, Cornelius & Millack, Agnes & van Baal, Sebastian & aus dem Moore, Nils & Korfhage, Thorben, 2015. "Zukunft von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft unter Minimalwachstumsbedingungen: Begründungsmuster, Folgen, Handlungsoptionen," RWI Projektberichte, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, number 123324.
    7. Mesa-Lago, Carmelo, 2004. "An appraisal of a quarter-century of structural pension reforms in Latin America," Revista CEPAL, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), December.
    8. Takayama, Noriyuki, 2005. "Pension Reform of PRC : ―Incentives, Governance and Policy Options―," Economic Review, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 56(4), pages 289-303, January.
    9. Garon, Jean-Denis, 2016. "The commitment value of funding pensions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 11-14.
    10. Martin Werding & Marko Primorac, 2016. "Old-Age Provision in Transition: The Case of Croatia," CESifo Working Paper Series 5761, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Rene Weber & David S. Gerber, 2007. "Aging, Asset Allocation, and Costs; Evidence for the Pension Fund Industry in Switzerland," IMF Working Papers 07/29, International Monetary Fund.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook

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