The Evolution of Pension Policy at National and Supranational Level
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.
CHAPTER 3 Last Wave of Pension Reforms. The Case of Western European Countries 105
105 CHAPTER 3 Last Wave of Pension Reforms The Case of Western European Countries Introduction As shown in the previous chapters, at the end of the “golden age” of welfare, policy-makers faced new challenges (population ageing, new social risks, changing macro-economic context, economic internationa- lization, etc.) and shared new aims (first to modernize retirement pro- grammes and to improve their long-term sustainability) (Palier, 2003a). And in order to restructure pensions, governments interacted with the different policy legacies introduced in the previous chapter. The following analysis of recent reforms starts with a brief summary of the main challenges and problems each group of countries has dealt with. While the broad generalizations proposed in Chapter 1 help to disentangle common traits of the last “critical juncture”, the more pre- cise assessment of country specificities helps the analysis of each trajec- tory of innovations. The main characteristics of the new measures are then summarized and assessed in terms of their output and (expected) outcome. The focus is on the changing institutional design (our depen- dent variable) and consequently on the changing policy paradigm. In particular, the analysis is centred on the role of public schemes (in terms of spending and replacement rates) and non-public schemes (in terms of coverage, voluntary and/or mandatory participation, and of contribution rates). Information on total public spending, replacement rates and coverage rates are paralleled by projections to shed light on the future potential effect of new rules. In fact, current data tell us little about reforms’ outcome, and...
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