IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

The Use of Replacement Rates in International Comparisons of Benefit Systems

Listed author(s):
  • Peter Whiteford

Comparative studies of social security systems have increasingly turned towards the use of replacement rates as measures of the level of benefits in different countries and therefore of the degree of social protection afforded by different welfare systems. The rationale for this is that replacement rates provide consistent measures of the relative generosity of payments and therefore indicate the ‘quality’ of social security systems. This paper reviews the use of replacement rates in comparisons of the generosity of retirement pensions and argues that they are not necessarily reliable as such measures. This reflects a number of factors, including incomplete measurement of benefit packages and differences in what must be bought out of disposable incomes. Most importantly, the paper suggests that the levels of earnings in different countries are not independent of the processes of redistribution. In particular, countries which rely on social security contributions from employers appear to provide more generous benefits than those which rely on income taxes or employee contributions. This is a consequence of the fact that employer contributions do not figure specifically in the calculation of replacement rates. The relative generosity of benefit systems is overstated in countries which rely on employer social security contributions to fund benefits. The paper concludes that a range of complementary indicators of social security systems should be used in future analysis of these issues.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre in its series Discussion Papers with number 0054.

in new window

Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Jan 1995
Handle: RePEc:wop:sprcdp:0054
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Sydney 2052

Phone: +61 2 9385 3833
Fax: +61 2 9385 1049
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Gerry Redmond, 1999. "Incomes, incentives and the growth of means-testing in Hungary," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 20(1), pages 77-99, March.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wop:sprcdp:0054. 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: (Thomas Krichel)

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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.