Elephants on the move. Patterns of public pension reform in OECD countries
Among OECD countries there are two clusters of old-age security systems: (1) countries had, by the end of the 1960s, fashioned the core of old-age security as public, contributory, earnings-related and unfunded insurance schemes; (2) a diverse collection of countries that, after 1970, topped up their basic pension arrangements with funded occupational pension schemes with (almost) universal coverage. countries, on which this essay focuses, reveal at least six common trends in pension reform, all about improving the financial sustainability of public schemes. Although the repertoire of incremental adjustment strategies is quite limited, policy changes since the early 1980s have not led to a clear convergence among countries (or across the two clusters). Their original diversity has been somewhat diminished, but it has for the most part merely taken a different form. Public pension reforms regularly harmed (future) beneficiaries. Nevertheless, most reforms were actually based on broad political consensus. The success of attempts to introduce retrenchment policies depends on prior negotiation with collective actors above and beyond a simple parliamentary majority. This peculiar prerequisite ensures success in the sense of a sustained implementation of the measures taken and of actual improvement in public trust in pension schemes.
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