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Old and Unequal?: An Institutional Analysis of Pension Systems' Driving Forces and Outcomes in Affluent OECD Countries
Stockholms universitet, Samhällsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Sociologiska institutionen.ORCID-id: 0000-0003-4623-6556
2023 (Engelska)Doktorsavhandling, sammanläggning (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
Abstract [en]

The growing privatization of old-age pension systems in many high-income countries in the late 20th century has raised serious concerns regarding their social sustainability. Compared to public pensions, private pensions tend to be associated with greater income inequality and less economic well-being. Yet, little is known regarding the role of pension privatization for trends in income inequality and economic well-being among the retired. This thesis comprises three empirical studies, which together aim at investigating the driving forces and the redistributive outcomes of pension privatization in a selection of high-income countries over the period 1980–2018.

Study I assesses the role of partisan politics in shaping trends in pension privatization in seventeen high-income countries over the years 1980–2017. Results from time-series cross-sectional analyses reveal a negative association between left government historical legacy and trends in pension privatization. Contemporary left parties in government are associated with less privatization only in the context of a strong left-wing legacy. Thus, the findings show that partisan politics matter for pension policy also in times of welfare state restructuring.

Study II asks to what extent the expansion of private pensions affects changes in income inequality among the retired. Decomposition analyses by income source of household incomes around 1986 and 2018 highlight an interesting paradox. While higher shares of private pensions in retirement incomes have had a substantial inequality-increasing effect, overall income inequality among the retired has not necessarily increased. Variations in the share and distribution of other income components, as well as in the distribution of private pensions, explain this paradox. This finding points to the relevance of considering the interplay of the different income sources to address income inequality in retirement, which implies to consider policies beyond the realm of pension policy.

Study III analyzes the developments affecting economic independence among newly retired women and men in fifteen high-income OECD countries during the period 1986–2018. Results reveal the convergence in the proportion of newly retired women and men reaching economic independence. Results from time-series cross-sectional analyses show that trends in economic independence are not related to pension privatization among women, nor among men. Minimum public pensions are associated with increased economic independence of both newly retired women and men. Economic independence is also more common among newly retired cohorts of women with gainful work histories and parental leave duration in their prime working years.

Taken together, the findings from the three studies highlight that partisan politics matter for changes in old-age pension systems, which in turn shape patterns of income inequality and economic independence among the retired. These findings contribute to nuance some of the expectations regarding the negative redistributive outcomes of increased pension privatization. Future research should further explore these dynamics, as some of the processes that came to compensate or outweigh private pensions’ redistributive outcomes are likely to even out in the years to come.

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
Stockholm: Department of Sociology, Stockholm University , 2023. , s. 60
Serie
Swedish Institute for Social Research, ISSN 0283-8222 ; 113
Nyckelord [en]
pension privatization, retirement, inequality, economic independence, social sustainability, gender, partisan politics, social policy, welfare state, pension systems
Nationell ämneskategori
Sociologi (exklusive socialt arbete, socialpsykologi och socialantropologi)
Forskningsämne
sociologi
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-214618ISBN: 978-91-8014-196-3 (tryckt)ISBN: 978-91-8014-197-0 (digital)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-214618DiVA, id: diva2:1735395
Disputation
2023-03-24, hörsal 3, hus B, Universitetsvägen 10 B, Stockholm, 10:00 (Engelska)
Opponent
Handledare
Forskningsfinansiär
Forte, Forskningsrådet för hälsa, arbetsliv och välfärd, 2012-1708Tillgänglig från: 2023-03-01 Skapad: 2023-02-08 Senast uppdaterad: 2023-03-01Bibliografiskt granskad
Delarbeten
1. Left Partisan Politics and Pension Privatization at the Crossroads of Political Legacy and Contemporary Politics (1980-2017)
Öppna denna publikation i ny flik eller fönster >>Left Partisan Politics and Pension Privatization at the Crossroads of Political Legacy and Contemporary Politics (1980-2017)
2023 (Engelska)Ingår i: Social Policy & Administration, ISSN 0144-5596, E-ISSN 1467-9515, Vol. 57, nr 5, s. 804-819Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat) Published
Abstract [en]

Pension reforms undertaken by affluent OECD countries in recent decades have resulted in substantial changes in the balance of public and private pension provision, characterized as a growing privatization of old-age incomes. However, research on the political determinants of this trend remains limited. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the political determinants of pension privatization, and to bring partisan politics back into the theoretical framework of pension reforms. The focus is on left government strength, and a distinction is made between left government historical legacy and contemporary left government strength. Time-series cross-sectional regressions of pension privatization on left government strength are performed, analyzing seventeen OECD countries during the period 1980–2017. The results show that partisan politics matter for pension privatization, despite structural constraints imposed by demographic and economic factors. Left government historical legacy is associated with less privatization compared to right and/or center government historical legacy. Left government legacy also shapes the role of contemporary politics, as contemporary left parties in government tend to privatize less in the context of historically strong left parties in government. 

Nyckelord
partisan politics, pension privatization, left government legacy
Nationell ämneskategori
Sociologi (exklusive socialt arbete, socialpsykologi och socialantropologi)
Forskningsämne
sociologi
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-214610 (URN)10.1111/spol.12912 (DOI)2-s2.0-85157989684 (Scopus ID)
Tillgänglig från: 2023-02-07 Skapad: 2023-02-07 Senast uppdaterad: 2023-08-16Bibliografiskt granskad
2. Changes in Private Pensions and Income Inequality in Retirement: A Decomposition Analysis by Income Source in Nine European Countries (1986-2018)
Öppna denna publikation i ny flik eller fönster >>Changes in Private Pensions and Income Inequality in Retirement: A Decomposition Analysis by Income Source in Nine European Countries (1986-2018)
2023 (Engelska)Ingår i: Work, Aging and Retirement, ISSN 2054-4642, E-ISSN 2054-4650Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Private pensions have expanded in many European countries in recent decades, albeit to different extents. As private pensions historically have been distributed more unequally than public pensions, it is reasonable to expect that pension privatization has increased the dispersion of incomes among the retired. However, few studies have tested this empirically. The purpose of this study is to assess to what extent the expansion of private pensions affects income inequality among the retired. Using microdata from the Luxembourg Income Study, decomposition analyses of income inequality by income source are conducted in nine European countries around 1986 and 2018. To account for cross-country variations in the public-private pension mix, the study distinguishes between mature multi-pillar systems, emergent multi-pillar systems, and dominant public systems. The results highlight an interesting paradox: while higher shares of private pensions in retirement incomes have a substantial inequality-increasing effect, overall income inequality among the retired has not necessarily increased. There are two reasons for this. First, the increased inequality resulting from the larger shares of private pensions were compensated for, either fully or partially, by more equally distributed public pensions in emergent multi-pillar systems and by declining shares of capital income in mature multi-pillar systems. Second, the private pensions became more equally distributed among the retired in most countries.

Nyckelord
inequality, pension, retirement
Nationell ämneskategori
Sociologi (exklusive socialt arbete, socialpsykologi och socialantropologi)
Forskningsämne
sociologi
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-214612 (URN)10.1093/workar/waad017 (DOI)001003570600001 ()
Tillgänglig från: 2023-02-07 Skapad: 2023-02-07 Senast uppdaterad: 2023-08-16
3. What Drives Long-Term Trends in Newly Retired Women's and Men's Economic Independence? An Analysis of Contemporary and Historical Determinants
Öppna denna publikation i ny flik eller fönster >>What Drives Long-Term Trends in Newly Retired Women's and Men's Economic Independence? An Analysis of Contemporary and Historical Determinants
2023 (Engelska)Rapport (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
Abstract [en]

Concerns about the social sustainability of pension systems are growing. The increasing privatization of pension provision in many OECD countries is expected to have harmful consequences for workers with non-standard working careers, among whom women are overrepresented. Despite much new research, little is known about changes in the incomes of newly retired persons. Using microdata from the Luxembourg Income Study, this study analyzes how the economic independence of newly retired women and men has changed over the years 1986–2018 in fifteen OECD countries and assesses some of its determinants. The results show that economic independence among newly retired women has increased since the 1980s in almost all countries, but decreased among men in half of the countries considered here. Regression analyses show that pension privatization is not associated with worsened economic independence among newly retired women, nor among newly retired men. Minimum public pensions tend to increase the economic independence of both newly retired women and men. Economic independence is also more common among newly retired cohorts of women with gainful work histories and parental leave duration in their prime working years.

Förlag
s. 38
Serie
Luxembourg Income Study Working Paper Series ; 861
Nyckelord
economic independence, gender, pension privatization, retirement
Nationell ämneskategori
Sociologi (exklusive socialt arbete, socialpsykologi och socialantropologi)
Forskningsämne
sociologi
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-214613 (URN)
Tillgänglig från: 2023-02-07 Skapad: 2023-02-07 Senast uppdaterad: 2023-06-14Bibliografiskt granskad

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