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Assessing the sustainability of pension reforms in Europe

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  • Grech, Aaron George

Abstract

Spurred by the ageing transition, many governments have made wide-ranging reforms, dramatically changing Europe's pensions landscape. Nevertheless there remain concerns about future costs, while unease about adequacy is growing. This study develops a comprehensive framework to assess pension system sustainability. It captures the effects of reforms on the ability of systems to alleviate poverty and maintain living standards, while setting out how reforms change future costs and relative entitlements for different generations. This framework differs from others, which just look at generosity at the point of retirement, as it uses pension wealth - the value of all transfers during retirement. This captures the impact of both longevity and changes in the value of pensions during retirement. Moreover, rather than focusing only on average earners with full careers, this framework examines individuals at different wage levels, taking account of actual labour market participation. The countries analysed cover 70% of the EU’s population and include examples of all system types. Our estimates indicate that while reforms have decreased generosity significantly, in most, but not all, countries the poverty alleviation function remains strong, particularly where minimum pensions have improved. However, moves to link benefits to contributions have made some systems less progressive, raising adequacy concerns for women and those on low incomes. The consumption smoothing function of state pensions has declined noticeably, suggesting the need for longer working lives or additional private saving for individuals to maintain pre-reform living standards. Despite the reforms, the size of entitlements of future generations should remain similar to that of current generations, in most cases, as the effect of lower annual benefits should be offset by longer retirement. Though reforms have helped address the financial challenge faced by pension systems, in many countries pressures remain strong and further reforms are likely.

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  • Grech, Aaron George, 2010. "Assessing the sustainability of pension reforms in Europe," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 43865, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:43865
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Krpan, Mira & Pavković, Ana & Galetić, Fran, 2019. "Comparison of Sustainability Indicators of Pension Systems in the New EU Member States," 7th International OFEL Conference on Governance, Management and Entrepreneurship: Embracing Diversity in Organisations (Dubrovnik, 2019), in: 7th International OFEL Conference on Governance, Management and Entrepreneurship: Embracing Diversity in Organisations. April 5th - 6th, 2019, Dubrovn, pages 470-484, Governance Research and Development Centre (CIRU), Zagreb.
    2. Grech, Aaron George, 2012. "Evaluating the possible impact of pension reforms on future living standards in Europe," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51296, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Xiaohua Chen & Zaigui Yang, 2019. "Stochastically Assessing the Financial Sustainability of Individual Accounts in the Urban Enterprise Employees’ Pension Plan in China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(13), pages 1-20, June.
    4. R. Melis & A. Trudda, 2014. "Mixed pension systems sustainability," Working Paper CRENoS 201413, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    5. Grech, Aaron George, 2013. "How best to measure pension adequacy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51270, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Hasan Altiok & Glenn Jenkins, 2013. "Social security generosity, budgetary deficits and reforms in North Cyprus," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 16(2), pages 218-235.
    7. María del Carmen Ramos-Herrera & Simón Sosvilla-Rivero, 2020. "Fiscal Sustainability in Aging Societies: Evidence from Euro Area Countries," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(24), pages 1-20, December.
    8. Luise Mladen & Mihaela Ghenta, 2017. "Factors that Potentially Affect the Financial Sustainability of the Pension System in Romania," Journal of Economic Development, Environment and People, Alliance of Central-Eastern European Universities, vol. 6(2), pages 14-23, June.
    9. Giuseppe Marotta, 2011. "Are defined contribution pension schemes socially sustainable? A conceptual map from a macroprudential perspective," Centro Studi di Banca e Finanza (CEFIN) (Center for Studies in Banking and Finance) 0028, Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Dipartimento di Economia "Marco Biagi".
    10. Giuseppe Marotta, 2011. "Are defined contribution pension schemes socially sustainable? A conceptual map from a macroprudential perspective," Department of Economics 0671, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
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    13. Bernhard Ebbinghaus & Kenneth Nelson & Rense Nieuwenhuis, 2019. "Poverty in Old Age," LIS Working papers 777, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    14. Grech, Aaron George, 2014. "Evaluating the possible impact of pension reforms on elderly poverty in Europe," MPRA Paper 57639, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Lijian Wang & Daniel Béland, 2014. "Assessing the Financial Sustainability of China’s Rural Pension System," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(6), pages 1-20, May.
    16. Yuehong Tian & Xianglian Zhao, 2016. "Stochastic Forecast of the Financial Sustainability of Basic Pension in China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(1), pages 1-17, January.
    17. Grech, Aaron George, 2014. "Assessing the sustainability of pension reforms in Europe: a pension wealth approach," MPRA Paper 57638, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. repec:sph:rjedep:v:2:y:2017:i:6:p:14-23 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Dilshodjon Alidjonovich Rakhmonov, 2016. "Improvement of the Pension System in Uzbekistan: Through the Experience of the European Union Countries," Eurasian Journal of Economics and Finance, , vol. 4(1), pages 80-90.
    20. Aaron George, Grech, 2014. "Pension policy design: The core issues," MPRA Paper 53662, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Pu Liao & Hui Su & Dragan Pamučar, 2020. "Will Ending the One-Child Policy and Raising the Retirement Age Enhance the Sustainability of China’s Basic Pension System?," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(19), pages 1-20, October.
    22. Sabina Hod?i? & Lucija Rogi? Duman?i? & Emira Be?i?, 2019. "Financial stability of pension system in the European Union member states," Proceedings of International Academic Conferences 9912130, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.
    23. Grech, Aaron George, 2015. "Pension reforms in the 1990s and during the financial crisis: More of the same?," MPRA Paper 66894, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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