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The German Public Pension System: How it Was, How it Will Be

  • Axel H. Börsch-Supan

    (Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging)

  • Christina B. Wilke

    (National Bureau of Economic Research)

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    Germany still has a very generous public pay-as-you-go pension system. It is characterized by early effective retirement ages and very high effective replacement rates. Most workers receive virtually all of their retirement income from this public retirement insurance. Costs are almost 12% of GDP, more than 2.5 times as much as the U.S. Social Security System. The pressures exerted by population aging on this monolithic system, amplified by negative incentive effects, have induced a reform process that began in 1992 and is still ongoing. This paper has two parts. Part A describes the German pension system as it has shaped the labor market from 1972 until today. Part B describes the reform process, which will convert the exemplary and monolithic Bismarckian public insurance system to a complex multi-pillar system. We provide a survey of the main features of the future German retirement system introduced by the so called “Riester Reform” in 2001 and an assessment in how far this last reform step will solve the pressing problems of the German system of old age provision.

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    File URL: http://www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/Papers/pdf/wp041.pdf
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    Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp041.

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    Length: 44 pages
    Date of creation: Mar 2003
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp041
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    1. Axel Börsch-Supan & Tito Boeri & Guido Tabellini, 2002. "Would you Like to Reform the Pension System?," MEA discussion paper series 02007, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    2. Tito Boeri & Axel Börsch-Supan & Guido Tabellini, 2001. "Would you like to shrink the welfare state? A survey of European citizens," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(32), pages 7-50, 04.
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