Pension Systems and Pension Reform in an Aging Society. An Introduction to the Debate
Traditionally, pension systems aim to fulfill a number of functions which include income security and consumption smoothing in old age, as well as income redistribution. The main rationale for pension reform lies in the interaction between current demographic trends (e.g. increasing old age dependency ratios) and the design of existing pension systems (particularly, the so called Pay-As-You-Go public systems). Under certain conditions, population aging can in fact undermine the ability of a pension system to fulfill those very aims for which it was created, putting pensioners at risks of higher poverty and inequality, besides creating large fiscal pressures on governments and threaten economic growth. In the literature, we find two main approaches to this debate. On the one hand, economic theory helps us formalize the mechanisms through which aging affects a pension system, given its possible features (e.g. type of benefit offered, degree of actuarial fairness or type of financing); it also helps us quantify costs or returns associated to different pension designs and, consequently, to different pension reform options. On the other hand, the policy debate is centered on models of reform which take from concrete country experiences; overall, it focuses mostly on whether funding pensions (i.e. privatizing and individualizing retirement savings, away from Pay-As-You-Go systems) is the best option for reducing many of the negative economic impacts associated to population aging. After having illustrated both sides of the debate – the theoretical and the empirical - our paper makes two main claims. Firstly, the debate should be re-framed away from whether funding is the best option for pension reform in the face of population aging, towards a redefinition of the problem which rather focus on the type of benefit offered, its coverage, its eligibility conditions and actuarial design (as this controls important behavioral and efficiency implications). Secondly, and relatedly, the final impact of a given pension system or reform on future economic variables (i.e. growth, poverty, inequality, financial sustainability) cannot be inferred only by using the tools of economic theory, or the lessons of policy experience. Rather, it requires the ability to quantify the net effects of several interacting explanatory levels, such as country-specific demographic, economic and institutional trends. To this end, we propose the adoption of micro simulation modeling as a well-suited methodology for shedding more light on this important policy debate.
|Date of creation:||May 2007|
|Note:||ISSN: 1652-120X; ISBN: 978-91-85619-06-1|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Institute for Futures Studies, Box 591, SE-101 31 Stockholm, Sweden|
Phone: 08-402 12 00
Fax: 08-24 50 14
Web page: http://www.framtidsstudier.se
More information through EDIRC
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:ifswps:2007_006. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Erika Karlsson)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.