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The New Pension Mix in Europe

Recent Reforms, Their Distributional Effects and Political Dynamics


Edited By David Natali

This book – based on a research project carried out by the Observatoire Social Européen asbl, with the financial support of the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) – looks at the most recent developments in pension policy and politics in Europe and advances our understanding of the field in three respects: firstly, it contributes to improve our knowledge of the most recent reform wave passed in the wake of the recent economic and financial crisis; secondly, it assesses the long-term financial and social sustainability of pensions; thirdly, it analyses the politics of pensions and the way policymakers and stakeholders interact in order to address the major challenges to pensions.

The evidence proposed by six country chapters (about Italy, France, Finland, Poland, the Netherlands and UK) and three more transversal chapters (about the role of the EU, that of trade unions in pension reforms, and the main challenges to pension systems in Europe) proves that pension systems have been altered in the wake of the recent crisis. The more evident changes have consisted of: the halt – at least in some countries – of the spread of private pension funds; the improvement in the financial viability of the systems paralleled by more evident risks for the future adequacy of pension benefits; and the alteration of pension politics with the risk of the progressive marginalisation of the trade union movement. In many countries, reforms have been passed without any major social concertation, while the European Union (EU) has had a more evident influence, especially in the countries hit most by the crisis. As a consequence of these trends, we see the emergence of a "new" pension mix in Europe, with new institutional settings, and new challenges.

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List of Contributors


Johan De Deken is an assistant professor in the sociology of labour and organisations at the Department of Sociology of the University of Amsterdam. He is affiliated to the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) and the Amsterdam Institute of Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS). His main current research interests include social expenditure analysis, unemployment compensation and activation policies, the public-private divide in pension systems, the interdependence between pensions and housing policies and issues of pension fund governance. His most recent publications include: ‘Poor because of low pensions or expensive housing? The combined impact of pension and housing systems on poverty among the elderly’, with Delfani, N. and Dewilde, C. (2015), International Journal of Housing Policy, 15(3), pp. 260–284; “Identifying the skeleton of the social investment state: defining and measuring patterns of social policy change on the basis of expenditure data”, in B. Cantillon, & F. Vandenbroucke (eds.), Reconciling work and poverty reduction: how successful are European welfare states? (International policy exchange series), Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. 260–285.

Bernhard Ebbinghaus is Professor of Social Policy in the Department of Social Policy & Intervention and Senior Research Fellow of Green Templeton College at University of Oxford. He holds a PhD in social and political sciences from European University Institute (EUI, 1993), a Habilitation (1993) in sociology from University of Cologne, and a Master (Diplom, 1988) in sociology from University of Mannheim. His major research fields are comparative analyses of welfare states, labour relations,...

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