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Ageing and Pension Reform Around the World

Evidence from Eleven Countries

Edited by Giuliano Bonoli and Toshimitsu Shinkawa

This book comprehensively documents developments in pension policy in eleven advanced industrial countries in Western Europe, East Asia and North America. In order to explore what population ageing means for the sustainability of pension systems, the authors present a detailed review of pension policy making over the past two decades and provide up-to-date analysis of current pension legislation. They examine the factors that can facilitate or impede the adaptation of pension systems and the features that shape and determine reforms. They also highlight the fact that although the path of reform taken by each country is somewhat different, the processes at work are often very similar.
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Chapter 12: Stasis Amidst Change: Canadian Pension Reform in an Age of Retrenchment

Daniel Béland and John Myles


Daniel Béland and John Myles* INTRODUCTION The ongoing debate on pension reform among policy-makers in East Asian, North American and Western European countries has been framed by a conventional discourse depicting a developing demographic time bomb as the elderly population grows in relation to the overall population (Béland and Waddan, 2000). Since the 1980s, these demographic fears as well as macroeconomic constraints related to economic globalization and regional integration have favoured the enactment of various pension reforms in East Asia, North America and Western Europe. As in most countries, Canada’s national pension system is largely a product of the age of welfare state expansion that extended from the 1950s to the 1970s (see Section I). The result was a public system that might be characterized as a small-scale version of the traditional Swedish design: a universal flat benefit for all seniors (Old Age Security), supplemented by a guaranteed minimum (income-tested) pension (the Guaranteed Income Supplement), and a modest second tier of earnings-related pensions (the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans). Middle- and upper-income families supplement these benefits with employment-based pensions (Registered Pension Plans or RPPs) and personal retirement accounts (Registered Retirement Savings Plans or RRSPs). All of these elements were in place by the end of the 1960s. Since then, pension reform has emerged as a ‘hot point’ on the legislative agenda in three distinct periods. The period from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s brought the so-called Great Pension Debate, a high-profile but ultimately doomed attempt to expand...

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