28 Apr 2009

Towards sustainable but still adequate pensions in the EU

Theory, trends and simulations

Juraj Draxler / Jørgen Mortensen

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This report is a summary of the research project on the “Adequacy and Sustainability of Old-Age Income Maintenance” (AIM). Thirteen institutes from across the EU have collaborated on the task of assessing the situation of today’s pensioners and providing insights into future trends and policy options for securing adequate income for EU pensioners.
The AIM project produced several state-of-the-art additions to the debate on EU pension reforms. Among others, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research in the UK calculated cohort spending for a sample of European countries to show how much countries need to save to take care of future pensioners. The team led by the Belgian Federal Planning Bureau developed the first EU, multi-country, dynamic simulation model for pension expenditure called MIDAS. A group of research institutes led by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research provided a current map of the social exclusion of the elderly in the EU.
The report starts with a discussion on what pensions we can consider adequate. Indicators of adequacy are proposed. Then, to determine the different pension mechanisms in existence in the EU and the prevalence of various kinds of schemes, the report provides an up-to-date classification of pension systems. This classification section is followed by an analysis of public opinion on pension reforms. While the public is generally in favour of the status quo, certain segments of the population fear and resist changes for diverse reasons.
The bulk of the study entails a statistical description of the material situation of the elderly in the EU-15 and the new member states, simulations of assorted policy scenarios and discussions on incentives to retire or stay in the labour force. The broad conclusion of the report is that the pension incomes of future generations are under threat everywhere, mostly owing to demographic developments. Yet policy-makers have a range of reform options at their disposal that, when implemented with careful regard for the political and social context, can ensure adequate incomes of the elderly in the future.