Theory and Practice in Europe
Edited by Rune Ervik and Tord Skogedal Lindén
Chapter 5: Pension policy recommendations of governmental commissions in Norway, Denmark, Germany and the UK
This chapter investigates the role of governmental commissions in welfare reform processes by posing three questions. First, which problems and challenges concerning pensions and ageing are identified by the commissions? Second, what do they recommend? Third, have the recommendations resulted in reforms? An important strand in the literature on welfare reforms concerns when reform is possible. Pierson (1994) has identified a variety of blame avoidance strategies, for example, presenting policy in such a way that its negative consequences are less visible (obfuscation). Schludi (2005, 2008) and Natali and Rhodes (2008) have studied how governments can reach agreements with opposition parties and social partners to avoid veto players blocking change, while Overbye (2008) emphasizes that governments through the right framing can make reforms appear necessary and sensible. This chapter contributes to this research literature by focusing on what can be seen as a blame avoidance strategy: establishing governmental commissions to propose changes in Norway, Denmark, Germany and the UK. Research on governmental commissions and welfare reform has often applied a national perspective, providing comparisons within rather than across countries (see, for instance, Hort 2005 and Marier 2008b on Sweden; Schulz and van Twist 2009 on the Netherlands; Pedersen 2009 on Norway; Siefken 2006a, 2006b, 2007, Schulze and Jochem 2007, Fleckenstein 2008 and Kropp 2003 on Germany; Klitgaard and Norgaard 2009, Klitgaard and Christiansen 2009, and Christensen et al. 2009a on Denmark; and Hills 2006a, 2006b on the UK).
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