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Traute Meyer

This chapter compares the pension promises made by governments in 2002 and 2015, a period of cost constraints which were enforced, but not triggered by the Great Recession. It focuses on the projected pension replacement rates of citizens earning low, average and above average wages in 20 EU member states, using OECD data. Countries are grouped according to the Bismarckian and the Beveridgean type of pension insurance, because scholarship has assumed that the latter protects low-waged individuals better, while the former favours higher earners. The analysis shows a decline in pension promises in most countries during the period but, interestingly, in both systems, replacement levels remain high for most, and especially for those on lower incomes, suggesting that even though pressures on governments to reduce statutory pension commitments have led to cuts, states are ready to guarantee substantial levels of replacement income for future retirees, with few exceptions. Three extreme cases do not fit this trend: Germany, characterized by steep cuts for all; Sweden as the only country where entitlements for lower earners declined most drastically while entitlements for the better-off improved, and the United Kingdom which extended entitlements more significantly than elsewhere in the EU. The results do not align well with recent research on ‘dualization’ showing that contemporary labour markets increasingly marginalize vulnerable groups while the more privileged remain protected, but they are consistent with the assumption that austerity and modernization go hand in hand, that welfare states have ‘recalibrated’, reserving the strongest control for the most vulnerable. The distinction between Beveridgean and Bismarckian systems is also shown to be less significant than often assumed: the low-waged individuals analysed here are not necessarily better protected in Beveridgean countries, while in Bismarckian ones they do not have to resort to the means-test.

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Paul Bridgen and Traute Meyer

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Paul Bridgen and Traute Meyer

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Edited by Traute Meyer, Paul Bridgen and Barbara Riedmüller

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Private Pensions versus Social Inclusion?

Non-State Provision for Citizens at Risk in Europe

Edited by Traute Meyer, Paul Bridgen and Barbara Riedmüller

This rigorous study sheds light on these issues. It assesses the extent to which six European multi-pillar pension regimes are socially inclusive, by micro-simulating retirement income for hypothetical citizens facing typical post-industrial risks. This timely book suggests that non-state provision has significant limitations, yet also identifies the political and institutional conditions under which private pensions are indeed reconcilable with social inclusion.