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

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  • Axel Boersch-Supan
  • Christina B. Wilke

Abstract

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 percent 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 process is the topic of this paper. It has two parts. Part A describes the German pension system as it has shaped the labor market until about the year 2000. Part B describes the three staged reform process that will convert the exemplary and monolithic Bismarckian public insurance system after the year 2000 into a complex multipillar system. The paper delivers an assessment in how far these reform steps will solve the pressing problems of a prototypical pay-as-you-go system of old age provision, hopefully with lessons for other countries with similar problems.

Suggested Citation

  • Axel Boersch-Supan & Christina B. Wilke, 2004. "The German Public Pension System: How it Was, How it Will Be," NBER Working Papers 10525, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10525
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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, April.
    3. Courtney Coile & Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Social Security and Retirement," NBER Working Papers 7830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Borsch-Supan, Axel & Schnabel, Reinhold, 1998. "Social Security and Declining Labor-Force Participation in Germany," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 173-178, May.
    5. Borsch-Supan, Axel, 2000. "A Model under Siege: A Case Study of the German Retirement Insurance System," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(461), pages 24-45, February.
    6. Axel Borsch-Supan & Barbara Berkel, 2003. "Pension Reform in Germany: The Impact on Retirement Decisions," NBER Working Papers 9913, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Axel Börsch-Supan, 2002. "Eine Blaupause für eine nachhaltige Rentenreform in Deutschland," MEA discussion paper series 02001, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    8. Axel Borsch-Supan & Reinhold Schnabel, 1999. "Social Security and Retirement in Germany," NBER Chapters,in: Social Security and Retirement around the World, pages 135-180 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Börsch-Supan, Axel, 2000. "Rentenreform und die Bereitschaft zur Eigenvorsorge: Umfrageergebnisse in Deutschland," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 00-25, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • H8 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues

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