Social Indicators Research

, Volume 136, Issue 1, pp 247–268 | Cite as

The Influence of Social Models on Retirement Savings: Evidence for European Countries

  • Lucía Rey-Ares
  • Sara Fernández-López
  • Milagros Vivel-Búa


Population ageing, together with the negative effects of the recent economic and financial crisis that some European countries are still facing, have threatened the sustainability of public pension systems. In this context, voluntary private pensions have emerged as the most feasible alternative to supplement the minimum provided by Social Security Systems; however, this financial product does not enjoy its expected popularity. A potential explanation of this reality might be due to the fact that European countries are far from being homogeneous, nor their pensions systems. Therefore, any policy geared toward improving financial retirement planning should take into account these potential differences. As a first approach to their analysis, this paper proposes the existence of four different ‘social models’ in Europe -namely, Continental, Mediterranean, Nordic and Transitional-. Overall, empirical evidence confirmed the significant influence of country’ ‘social model’ on the decision to invest in retirement accounts on a sample of 31,468 individuals in 2013. It was also proved that this decision is positively related to age, household income and wealth, higher levels of formal education, job situation, good health status, and long-term planning horizons; and negatively related to age squared, household size or financial risk aversion. In short, future policies and reforms regarding private pensions should not only take into account the existence of individual differences among Europeans, but also the existence of differences depending on institutional and cultural country factors.


Social model Retirement account Private pension plan Europe SHARE 



‘This paper uses data from SHARE Wave 5 (DOI:  10.6103/SHARE.w5.100), see Börsch-Supan et al. (2013) for methodological details. The SHARE data collection has been primarily funded by the European Commission through FP5 (QLK6-CT-2001-00360), FP6 (SHARE-I3: RII-CT-2006-062193, COMPARE: CIT5-CT-2005-028857, SHARELIFE: CIT4-CT-2006-028812) and FP7 (SHARE-PREP: No. 211909, SHARE-LEAP: No. 227822, SHARE M4: No. 261982). Additional funding from the German Ministry of Education and Research, the U.S. National Institute on Aging (U01_AG09740-13S2, P01_AG005842, P01_AG08291, P30_AG12815, R21_AG025169, Y1-AG-4553-01, IAG_BSR06-11, OGHA_04-064) and from various national funding sources is gratefully acknowledged (see’ The authors are also grateful to the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport (MECD) for financial support through the ‘Becas de Formación del Profesorado Universitario 2014’.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Finance and Accounting, Faculty of Economy and Business AdministrationUniversity of Santiago de CompostelaSantiago de CompostelaSpain

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