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Age Politics and Pension Systems Development and Reform

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Abstract

A stylized demand-side view of pension system development informs much of the theoretical literature in political science and economics, as well as much pension policy-making. In this view, elderly voters and/or interest groups are important, even determinative forces behind the development and current trajectories of pension systems in the rich industrialized democracies. This perspective is based on three assumptions: first, a thin rationalist assumption that the elderly will act in accordance with their short-term interest in generous pension benefits; second, that representatives of the elderly share those interests; and third, that the introduction or reform of pension provisions will affect the incomes (and hence interests) of the current elderly. Yet a more empirical approach to the historical trajectories of such systems suggests that these assumptions are all problematic. During welfare states’ formative years, organized labor, employers, the self-employed, and policy-makers all promoted public and private pensions for their own reasons. Elderly voters and social movements of the elderly, on the other hand, were in most cases merely supporting players. Pressure from the elderly themselves was similarly less important for the expansion of pensions than were the institutional and economic dynamics driving the balance between direct and deferred compensation for workers, the competitive strategies of politicians, or the natural expenditure growth resulting from increased longevity in pay-as-you-go systems.

Keywords

  • Welfare State
  • Pension System
  • Public Pension
  • Qualitative Comparative Analysis
  • Pension Reform

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© 2015 Julia Lynch

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Lynch, J. (2015). Age Politics and Pension Systems Development and Reform. In: Torp, C. (eds) Challenges of Aging. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137283177_4

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