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Pensions in Europe, European Pensions

The Evolution of Pension Policy at National and Supranational Level

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David Natali

Ce livre a reçu le prix de la Société italienne de science politique (SISP) comme meilleur bouquin en sciences politiques en Italie pour la période 2007-2008.
Pension policy represents in many respects the corner stone of the contemporary European welfare states. And its reform has emerged as a key issue in most of the European countries. This book aims at improving the knowledge of the long-term and more recent evolution of retirement programmes and their regulation at national and supranational level. It gives detailed information about pensions in nine Western and Eastern European countries (Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden and UK). In parallel it develops the study of the European Union action in the field, through regulation, the Stability and Growth Pact and the Open Method of Coordination.
What does history tell us about the evolution of pensions? Is it a story of stability or change? Is there any convergence between European pension models? And then what is the role of the European Union in the field?
This book provides answers to these questions and gives scholars, students and policy-makers a comprehensive description of national retirement programmes as well as theoretical analysis of the reform politics, output and outcomes with a focus on national and European dynamics.
‘Pensions in Europe, European Pensions’ represents a promising step beyond the more traditional comparative contributions, revealing the complex interaction of national and supranational institutions engaged in the most important welfare policy in the ageing European society.

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Foreword 15

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15 Foreword The challenges that confront European pension systems find their origin in economic and social progress, and the increase of life- expectancy. The consequences of increased life-spans are fundamentally changing our aspirations and expectations. People can develop personal life-course projects, plan their careers and retirement, sign up to a mortgage and pension-savings schemes etc. At the same time a number of societal trends continue: lower birth rates, along with improvements in the field of education and greater equality, have enabled women to have a greater participation on the labour market. Marriage is no longer the indispensable institution, which women cannot avoid for lack of economic independence. Alternative life-styles are becoming more important. However, as Europe’s population ages, a demographic evolution is taking place that is gradually narrowing the financial basis for mature repartition systems and that is straining government budgets. Thus, population ageing poses an important challenge to the sustainability of pension systems. At the same time, the standard of living of the elderly is, more strongly than in the case of other age-groups determined by the quality of welfare state arrangements. Particularly the level of public pensions and the quality of health-care are essential and are becoming increasingly important in an ageing society. These multi-facetted challenges require an integrated and balanced approach to the pension question. We have to address these challenges from a financial as well as a social perspective. Since the middle of the nineties the Belgian government has developed a multifaceted policy strategy that aims...

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