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When the State Mirrors the Family: The Design of Pension Systems

  • Vincenzo Galasso

    (CEPRA, Institute of Economics, Universita' della Svizzera Italiana)

  • Paola Profeta

    ()

    (Econpubblica, Bocconi University, Milan)

We study how the prevailing internal organization of the family affected the initial design of pension systems. Our theoretical framework predicts that, in society with weak family ties, pensions systems were introduced to act as a safety net, while in societies with strong ties they replicate the tight link between generations by providing generous benefits. Using a historical classification of family ties, we show that in societies dominated by (weak ties) absolute nuclear families (f.i. Anglo-Saxon countries), safety net pension systems emerged; and viceversa in societies dominated by strong families. These results are robust to controlling for alternative legal, religious, and political explanations. Evidence on individual data confirm these findings: US citizens whose ancestors came from countries featuring strong ties (communitarian or egalitarian nuclear) families prefer to rely on the government as a provider of old age security through generous retirement benefits.

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Paper provided by USI Università della Svizzera italiana in its series CEPRA working paper with number 1201.

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Length: 57 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lug:wcepra:1201
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.bul.sbu.usi.ch

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  1. Vincenzo Galasso & Paola Profeta, 2004. "Lessons for an ageing society: the political sustainability of social security systems," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 19(38), pages 63-115, 04.
  2. Gilles Duranton & Andrés Rodríguez-Pose & Richard Sandall, 2008. "Family types and the persistence of regional disparities in Europe," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 33152, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Alessandra Fogli & Raquel Fernandez, 2009. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 146-77, January.
  4. Caucutt, Elizabeth & Cooley, Thomas F & Guner, Nezih, 2007. "The Farm, the City and the Emergence of Social Security," CEPR Discussion Papers 6131, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Marko Koethenbuerger & Panu Poutvaara & Paola Profeta, 2008. "Why are more redistributive social security systems smaller? A median voter approach," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(2), pages 275-292, April.
  6. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521855266 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Alberto F. Alesina & Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc & Paola Giuliano, 2010. "Family Values and the Regulation of Labor," NBER Working Papers 15747, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. David M. Cutler & Richard Johnson, 2004. "The Birth and Growth of the Social Insurance State: Explaining Old Age and Medical Insurance Across Countries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 120(1_2), pages 87-121, 07.
  9. Amir N. Licht & Chanan Goldschmidt & Shalom H. Schwartz, 2003. "Culture Rules: The Foundations of the Rule of Law and Other Norms of Governance," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-605, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  10. J. Ignacio Conde-Ruiz & Paola Profeta, 2007. "The Redistributive Design of Social Security Systems," Working Papers 2007-07, FEDEA.
  11. Vincenzo Galasso, 2008. "The Political Future of Social Security in Aging Societies," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026257246x, June.
  12. Disney, Richard, 2007. "Population ageing and the size of the welfare state: Is there a puzzle to explain?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 542-553, June.
  13. Lindert Peter H., 1994. "The Rise of Social Spending, 1880-1930," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 1-37, January.
  14. Vincenzo Galasso & Roberta Gatti & Paola Profeta, 2009. "Investing for the old age: pensions, children and savings," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 16(4), pages 538-559, August.
  15. Alesina, Alberto & Giuliano, Paola, 2007. "The Power of the Family," IZA Discussion Papers 2750, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. repec:crr:crrwps:2004-07 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Cutler, David & Johnson, Richard, 2004. "The Birth and Growth of the Social Insurance State: Explaining Old-Age and Medical Insurance Across Countries," Scholarly Articles 2643658, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  18. Pinotti Paolo, 2009. "Financial Development and Pay-As-You-Go Social Security," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-21, March.
  19. Tim Krieger & Stefan Traub, 2008. "Back to Bismarck? Shifting Preferences for Intragenerational Redistribution in OECD Pension Systems," Working Papers CIE 13, University of Paderborn, CIE Center for International Economics.
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