The Making and Breaking of Trust in Pension Providers: An Empirical Study of Pension Participants

  • Hendrik P. van DalenEmail author
  • Kène Henkens


Trust in pension institutions is pivotal in making pension decisions, like saving or enrolling in pension programs. But which traits of pension institutions matter in making or breaking trust in providers like pension funds, banks or insurance companies? This paper presents an empirical analysis of the underlying forces of trust in private pension providers in the Netherlands. Based on a large-scale survey among pension participants, we show that the perceived integrity, competence, stability and benevolence of pension providers matter in assessing their trustworthiness. First, pension funds are more trusted than banks or insurance companies, a difference that is primarily related to weights attached to perceived levels of integrity and stability. Second, higher educated participants have a significantly higher propensity to trust pension providers than lower educated. Third, transparency as perceived by participants plays virtually no role in establishing trust.


trust pension stability integrity transparency 



This research was carried out with the support of a Netspar Grant concerning the project ‘Trust and individual choice in collective pension arrangements’ and a grant of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS) and the VICI Research Grant (Grant no. 453-14-001) of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Comments by participants of Netspar workshops are gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© The Geneva Association 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)The HagueThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Tilburg School of Economics and Management (TISEM) and TIAS Business SchoolTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands
  3. 3.University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), University of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of SociologyUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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