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Three routes to a pension reform. Politics and institutions in reforming pensions in Denmark, Finland and Sweden


  • Kangas, Olli

    () (the Danish National Institute for Social Research)

  • Lundberg, Urban

    () (Institute for Futures Studies)

  • Ploug, Niels

    () (the Danish National Institute for Social Research)


By analysing pension reforms in three Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland and Sweden that apply different institutional solutions in their old-age security programmes – the paper argues that the political processes that shaped the country-specific pension set-ups in the 1950s and 1960s had important ramifications for the subsequent possibilities to reform these schemes. There is a high degree of inertia both in institutions and in the political reform options. Thus, the analysis shows that the ‘new politics’ were not so new in any of the countries. Furthermore, the three cases accentuate the question: What is a pension reform? The Swedish reform in the late 1990s was ‘big bang’ where everything was changed, the Finns build on piecemeal reforms that gradually changed the whole system, while on the surface, the Danish story is about stability and status quo. However, the Danish policy ‘drift’ changed the basic characteristics of the system in the end.

Suggested Citation

  • Kangas, Olli & Lundberg, Urban & Ploug, Niels, 2006. "Three routes to a pension reform. Politics and institutions in reforming pensions in Denmark, Finland and Sweden," Arbetsrapport 2006:10, Institute for Futures Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifswps:2006_010
    Note: ISSN 1652-120X ISBN 13: 978-91-89655-94-2; ISBN 10: 91-89655-94-X

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    pension reform; Nordic countries;

    JEL classification:

    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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