Handbook on Society and Social Policy
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Handbook on Society and Social Policy

Edited by Nicholas Ellison and Tina Haux

This comprehensive Handbook provides a unique overview of the key issues and challenges facing society and social policy in the twenty-first century, discussing how welfare is conceptualised, organised and delivered in contemporary global society. Chapters engage with specific areas of social policy as well as with the social divisions and institutional infrastructures that underpin them. The Handbook also considers how social policy should respond to the challenges posed by austerity, human migration and the climate crisis.
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Chapter 21: Pensions

Kati Kuitto and Susan Kuivalainen


Over the past century, pension systems have grown to be the biggest element of modern welfare states’ social security institutions both in terms of the number of persons drawing pension benefits and the financial volume. With demographic ageing, the importance of pension provision for the economic well-being of elderly populations and their macroeconomic weight grows further. The key aims of pension systems are poverty relief and consumption smoothing over the life course. Different pension systems pursue these policy goals in different ways and at varying levels. This chapter provides an overview of the different ways pension provision is organized in affluent OECD countries. It furthermore develops empirical insights into the outcomes of pension policies in terms of old-age poverty and income replacement levels and discusses gender and socio-economic inequalities related to pension provision. The authors close the chapter by reflecting on contemporary challenges arising from recent pension reforms and population ageing for pension adequacy.

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