Roel Beetsma, Ward Romp, Ron van Maurik, 13 November 2017

Population ageing means that many current pension regimes are unsustainable, but the timing of pension reform measures is a political as well as an economic decision. This column uses new data on OECD pension reforms since 1970 to show that their timing has not been driven by projected demographic developments or political change, but by the state of the economy at the time when reforms were legislated. Pension systems have expanded more frequently during booms, and have contracted during economic downturns.

Johanna Wallenius, Max Groneck, 01 June 2017

At the individual level, social security is a strong source of redistribution from rich to the poor in the US, due to the concavity of the pension formula. But this column argues that spousal and survivor benefits, which are important sources of retirement income for women, introduce regressive redistributive elements to social security and also provide incentives for even highly educated women to stay at home if they are married to a high earner. A means-tested minimum benefit would simultaneously increase overall labour supply and reduce inequality, compared to the current system.

Toby Nangle, Matt Tickle, 20 April 2017

While defined benefit pension schemes are typically viewed as users rather than sources of sponsor-firm funds, the considerations taken into account when firms choose to scale contributions are such that they become indistinguishable from other firm financing decisions. This column analyses how pension scheme funding deficits arise and argues that whilst deficits do not exist by design, firms’ decision to fund or underfund a defined benefit scheme might usefully be examined as one of many competing sources of long-term finance.

Tito Boeri, Pietro Garibaldi, Espen Moen, 08 September 2016

The Eurozone's sustained rise in youth unemployment since 2008 threatens to create a 'lost generation'. This column presents evidence that this is, in part, an unintended consequence of pension reforms in southern Europe that locked in older workers. In future, reforms that create flexible retirement ages alongside variable pension levels could minimise the impact on youth unemployment without increasing the state's long-term pension liabilities.

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The Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) and Asian Growth Research Institute (AGI) invite submissions of unpublished papers that focus on issues relating to aging in developing Asia. Both theoretical and empirical research papers with a policy orientation are welcome, provided the findings, conclusions, and policy recommendations are based on solid evidence and analysis. Manuscripts may focus on Asia as a whole, a group of countries, or individual economies.

Papers may deal with, but are not limited to, the following topics:

Public and private pensions
Long-term care and public and private long-term care insurance
Health care and public and private health insurance
Aging, the labor market, and human capital formation

James Banks, Carl Emmerson, Gemma Tetlow, 07 May 2016

Many countries are increasing the age at which people can start claiming state-funded pensions. One objection often raised is that such policies are unfair because some will be too unhealthy to remain in paid work. This column compares employment rates in England of older people today to those of earlier generations, and also to those of younger people today. These comparisons suggest that a significant minority of older people appear to be unable to work on the grounds of health alone. 

Zheng Song, Kjetil Storesletten, Fabrizio Zilibotti, Yikai Wang, 19 October 2014

The design of the pension system is a hot policy issue in China, given its fast-ageing population. This column discusses how different pension systems could allow different generations to share the benefits of high growth. The authors argue that a reform of the current system is necessary to achieve financial sustainability. However, delaying its implementation is advisable on the grounds of its effect on income inequality.

Manudeep Bhuller, Magne Mogstad, Kjell Salvanes, 22 September 2014

The impact of education on earnings over the life cycle is a critical factor for policy decisions ranging from education to taxation and pensions. This column exploits a unique Norwegian population panel data set to estimate an internal rate of return to additional schooling of about 10%. The standard Mincer-regression approach is also shown to substantially underestimate schooling’s rate of return.

Harun Onder, Pierre Pestieau, 20 May 2014

The world’s population is ageing, due to both increasing longevity and decreasing fertility. This column shows that the net effect of ageing on capital accumulation (and therefore growth) depends on which of these two factors dominates, and also on the structure of the pension system. Under a pension system with defined contributions, a reduction in fertility induces adjustments in savings and working life that unambiguously increase capital per worker.

Rafael Doménech, Víctor Pérez-Díaz, 11 December 2013

Based on the report issued by a Committee of Experts, the Spanish Parliament will pass a new law that implements an innovative sustainability factor in the public pension system. This column argues that the proposal solves the problem of financial sustainability in the long run while opening a wider debate on the welfare system and growth under conditions of increased global competition.

Rossana Merola, Douglas Sutherland, 31 March 2013

During the economic and financial crisis, fiscal positions across OECD countries deteriorated sharply. This column agues that population ageing and trends in social spending will further challenge the sustainability of fiscal balances. Research suggests that the scale of fiscal consolidation that will be needed to ensure long-term sustainability is large, but policymakers can look at the potential benefits of policy reform in mitigating budget pressures.

Ian Tonks, Edmund Cannon, 20 August 2012

The UK is about to make a massive change to its pension system. From October 2012, employers will be obliged to automatically enrol employees into a pension scheme – though individuals can opt-out. This column explores what this might mean for pension funding and argues that the risks are to the downside.

Ian Tonks, 06 May 2012

As companies come under the strain from growing pension liabilities, how are they likely to respond? This column looks at hundreds of the largest public companies in the UK and finds that these firms tend to make up their funding shortfalls by paying lower dividends to shareholders, rather than cutting back on investments.

Lans Bovenberg, Casper van Ewijk, 20 November 2011

There is a large variety of pension systems across EU members. This column argues for more private retirement saving as it is necessary to maintain old-age incomes and as it may also contribute to the stability of markets for government debt. But, it adds, governments should retain important responsibilities to prevent moral hazard due to intragenerational redistribution, to facilitate risk-sharing, and to minimise the agency issues due to financial illiteracy.

Kristian Rydqvist, Ilya Strebulaev, Joshua Spizman, 26 September 2009

Since World War II, direct stock ownership by households has largely been replaced by indirect stock ownership by financial institutions. This column argues that tax policy drove that shift.

Vincenzo Galasso, 07 November 2008

By analysing the effects of a pension reform in Italy, Vincenzo Galasso of Bocconi University has been able to explore why people might decide to have children – because they like them or to provide security in old age. In an interview recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Milan in August 2008, he talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his surprising finding that people facing the prospect of reduced pension benefits when they retire have increased their fertility.

Andrea Ichino, Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, Josef Zweimüller, Guido Schwerdt, 08 November 2007

Raising the retirement age is one of the standard solutions for Europe’s aging problem. But won’t this only increase their unemployment rate? New empirical evidence suggests that increasing the retirement age is unlikely to produce a band of workers who are too old to work but too young to retire.

Tito Boeri, Agar Brugiavini, 16 August 2007

Italy’s Agreement on pensions has been signed, but it’s not the start of a new pact between generations. It’s a plug to buy time while holding out for new corrective measures. All the fundamental problems remain unresolved.

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