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Pension reform, financial literacy and public information : a case study of the United Kingdom


  • Whitehouse, Edward


This paper, the first in a series on public information, and pension reform to explore issues examining a range of country experiences, looks at the experience in the United Kingdom (UK), where a number of initiatives to improve general, and individual pension information, are described, and assessed. The UK pension system is briefly described, to then focus on the consumer knowledge of pensions, and the lack of confidence in a complex and rapidly changing pension system, indifference to retirement-income planning, and problems in getting trustworthy advice. Current and planned initiatives to improve both general pensions, and financial knowledge and information about individual pension rights, - from government financial regulators, and the private sector - are then assessed. Pension reforms in the UK emphasize private funding, rather than state, pay-as-you-go provision, promote defined-contribution, rather than defined-benefit schemes, and in particular they should lead to lower administrative charges with private pensions, and greater flexibility in changing contribution levels as family finances require. The report highlights the importance of the role of public information in preparing for, and promoting reform, in ensuring people understand the choices open to them, and thedecisions they are expected to make, but mostly, public information should address, and ensure the understanding of the pension system.

Suggested Citation

  • Whitehouse, Edward, 2000. "Pension reform, financial literacy and public information : a case study of the United Kingdom," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 21312, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:hdnspu:21312

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Whitehouse, Edward, 1998. "Pension reform in Britain," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 20053, The World Bank.
    2. Ronald Lee & Jonathan Skinner, 1999. "Will Aging Baby Boomers Bust the Federal Budget?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 117-140, Winter.
    3. Gavin Brown & Paul Draper & Eddie McKenzie, 1997. "Consistency of UK Pension Fund Investment Performance," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(2), pages 155-178.
    4. Meghir, Costas & Whitehouse, Edward, 1997. "Labour market transitions and retirement of men in the UK," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 327-354, August.
    5. Richard Disney & Robert Palacios & Edward Whitehouse, 1999. "Individual choice of pension arrangement as a pension reform strategy," IFS Working Papers W99/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    6. Palacios, Robert & Whitehouse, Edward, 1998. "The role of choice in the transition to a funded pension system," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 20109, The World Bank.
    7. Brown, Stephen J & Goetzmann, William N, 1995. " Performance Persistence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(2), pages 679-698, June.
    8. Richard Disney & Tanner, Tanner, 1999. "What can we learn from retirement expectations data?," IFS Working Papers W99/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    9. Blake, David & Lehmann, Bruce N & Timmermann, Allan G, 1997. "Performance Measurement using Multiple Asset Class Portfolio Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 1618, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Richard Disney & Costas Meghir & Edward Whitehouse, 1994. "Retirement behaviour in Britain," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 15(1), pages 24-43, February.
    11. Richard Disney, 1995. "Occupational pension schemes: prospects and reforms in the UK," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 16(3), pages 19-39, September.
    12. Sarah Tanner, 1998. "The dynamics of male retirement behaviour," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 19(2), pages 175-196, May.
    13. DeMarco, Gustavo & Rofman, Rafael & Whitehouse, Edward, 1998. "Supervising mandatory funded pension systems : issues and challenges," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 20113, The World Bank.
    14. Martha Starr-McCluer & Annika E. Sunden, 1999. "Workers' knowledge of their pension coverage: a reevaluation," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-05, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    15. Teresa Ghilarducci, 1992. "Labor's Capital: The Economics and Politics of Private Pensions," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262071398, July.
    16. Armando Barrientos, 1998. "Supplementary pension coverage in Britain," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 19(4), pages 429-446, November.
    17. Dilnot, Andrew & Disney, Richard & Johnson, Paul & Whitehouse, Edward, 1994. "Pensions policy in the UK: An economic analysis," MPRA Paper 10478, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    More about this item


    Banks&Banking Reform; Non Bank Financial Institutions; Public Sector Economics; Health Economics&Finance; Pensions&Retirement Systems;

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance


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