Pension Reform and Economic Theory

Pension Reform and Economic Theory

A Non-Orthodox Analysis

Sergio Cesaratto

The book is the first of its kind to attempt to deal with the economics of pensions and ageing on the basis of a rigorous theoretical framework alternative to neoclassical economics. Sergio Cesaratto breaks the dominant conformism in the current pension debate and explains that the strength of the various reforms proposed depends on the validity of the economic theories on which they are respectively based. He also illustrates the relevance of the Sraffian criticism to undermine the theoretical core of the mainstream proposals.

Chapter 1: Alternative Views of PAYG as a Social Institution

Sergio Cesaratto

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics


The guy that in the late Communist Party had the reputation of being a great expert in social security used to maintain that payroll taxes were not taxes but a deferred wage. For how long can this game be played? (N. Colajanni, Il Sole-24 Ore, 29 October 2003). 1.1 INTRODUCTION PAYG pensions are a subtle subject since the principles that regulate them are less well defined in economic analysis than those that, depending on the approach adopted, regulate income distribution and, in particular, define the 1 wage rate. In the latter case there is a relatively well-defined locus, the labour market, with relatively well-defined counterparts, workers and capitalists (or entrepreneurs), that facilitates the approach to the problem. Things appear much more complicated in the case of PAYG pensions, in which the process is mediated by political institutions (Myles, 1984, p. 28). From the point of view of National Accounts PAYG is a tax-transfer scheme, a transfer of income from current income-earners to the older section of the population. The social and political legitimacy and regulation of PAYG must be studied as an evolving social construct that concerns one aspect of income distribution. Retirement as a widespread social institution appeared late in the history of capitalism. Beneficiaries belong to various social classes and do not bargain by threatening industrial action; they would rather use the vote or lobbying and, in principle, they may even have interests that are opposite to those of their classes of origin. The state plays a central...

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