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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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INTRODUCTION Rediscovering Pensions 17

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17 INTRODUCTION Rediscovering Pensions I. Pensions in Europe, European Pensions Analysis of pensions politics and policy has for long been a central focus of comparative research on the welfare state. The importance of retirement programmes is largely recognized.1 From a financial point of view, public pension schemes are one of the most expensive elements in the public budget. From a social perspective, protection against the risks of old-age is at the core of social security and is becoming increasingly important in an ageing society. From a political point of view, decisions in the field affect the vast majority of citizens and voters, and therefore controversial measures (such as reducing benefits or increasing the systems’ revenues) are widely debated and extremely difficult to pass. For all these reasons, pension reforms have attracted much interest in recent years. A wide range of contributions has focused on the evolution of pension programmes in response to old and new challenges (Clark and Whiteside, 2003; Bonoli and Shinkawa, 2005; Johnson et al., 2005; Clark et al., 2006; Immergut et al., 2007; OECD, 2005 and 2007a; Holzmann and Palmer, 2005). The (supposed) “pension crisis” and the subsequent debate on the system’s modernization has attracted the interest of both experts and policy makers. Despite such a wide range of research, the present book represents an attempt to “rediscover” pensions in three main respects. Firstly, it provides an up-dated and more detailed picture of national pension systems in the wider Europe.2 Reforms in many countries seem to be...

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