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 MPIfG Books



Martin Schludi
The Reform of Bismarckian Pension Systems:
A Comparison of Pension Politics in Austria, France,
Germany, Italy and Sweden


Amsterdam University Press, 2005
312 pages | ISBN 978-90-5356-740-1 | € 39,50
Order directly from Amsterdam University Press.



Abstract | Contents | Author




Pension reform has emerged as a major political issue in most advanced welfare states. Sluggish economic growth and rising unemployment put public pension systems under increasing financial pressure. In combination with a rapidly ageing population in the decades to come, these pressures render major adjustements in pension policy design inevitable, especially in countries with costly earnings-related benefit arrangements. However, timely and successful adjustement is anything but guaranteed.
Both cuts of pension benefits and increases in contribution levels are bound to be highly unpopular and entail massive political risks. Thus, pension politics these days is as much about adjusting pension arrangements to changing demographic and economic conditions as it is about overcoming widespread political resistance to reforms that impose tangible losses on large parts of the population.
This study reveals striking differences in the extent to which pension policy makers were able to generate a sufficient political support basis for their reform initiatives. As a consequence, pension reform outcomes reach from successful restructuring of existing pension arrangements all the way down to instances of outright policy failure. By tracing the political process of pension reform in Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden since the late 1980s the book also provides us with deeper insights about the factors that facilitate - or impede - social policy reforms in the context of fiscal austerity.







The Need for Pension Reform: A Problem-Oriented Perspective
Public pension arrangements under adaptational pressures
Specific vulnerabilities of Bismarckian pension systems
Options for reform
Varying degrees in the need for adjustment

An Empirical Overview of Policy Change in Bismarckian Pension Regimes

The Politics of Pension Reform: An Actor-Centred Explanatory Framework
Social policymaking in an era of retrenchment: A review of theoretical approaches
The concept of actor-centred institutionalism
The politics of pension reform
Summary of the theoretical framework

Sweden: Policy-Oriented Bargaining
Italy: Corporatist Concertation in the Shadow of EMU
Germany: From Consensus To Conflict
Austria: Reform Blockage by the Trade Unions
France: Adverse Prerequisites for a Pension Consensus

Appendix I   Summary Description of Retirement Systems (1986)
Appendix II   Chronology of National Pension Reforms
Appendix III   Glossary of Terms



Dr. Martin Schludi works at the Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung in Nuremberg, Germany.

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