Family and the Welfare State in Europe

Family and the Welfare State in Europe

Intergenerational Relations in Ageing Societies

Agnes Blome, Wolfgang Keck and Jens Alber

This insightful book explores the role of both the family and the state in shaping the living conditions of the young and old in Europe. It provides a comparative theoretical and empirical analysis of age-related policies and welfare arrangements in Germany, France, Italy and Sweden.

Chapter 5: Pension Systems and the Material Living Conditions of Older Persons

Agnes Blome, Wolfgang Keck and Jens Alber

Subjects: development studies, family and gender policy, social policy and sociology, ageing, comparative social policy, family and gender policy, welfare states


The chapter investigates to what extent pension systems are able to ensure individual and adequate income in retirement. By individual retirement income, we mean a pension based on self-earned entitlements, usually arising from earned income during the life course, or redistributive measures based on individual entitlement, such as child-rearing years. We would like to distinguish this kind of entitlement from pension entitlements derived from a partner’s income, such as a widow’s pension. An adequate pension income, according to the European Commission (2006b: 53), provides income above the poverty threshold and should enable a decent living standard to be maintained. In doing so, we link institutional information about public pension schemes with data on the income of older persons, and pay particular attention to gender-specific differences. In the first part of the chapter we compare institutional regulations and ask the following questions: ● ● ● ● ● Which goals are incorporated into the organization of the pension system? Which preconditions must be met to qualify for benefits? What formula is used to calculate the pensions? To what degree are there redistributive measures, and who profits from them? What are the major characteristics of reforms undertaken during the last decade? The second part investigates how institutional regulations are reflected in individual pension income. Here the questions include: ● ● ● ● Who receives pensions, and of what size? How important is pension income in the household income of older persons? How unequally are incomes of older persons distributed, and what do pensions contribute to this distribution? To what extent do pension...

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