Governance of Supplementary Pensions in Europe: The Varying Scope for Participatory and Social Rights

Research question/goal: 

The shift towards non-state supplementary pensions across Europe raises fundamental issues regarding their governance in respect to guaranteeing basic participatory and social rights. The coverage, the benefit formula, the funding modes and other insurance features vary across supplementary pension systems as a result of different state or collective regulation. Based on ten country studies by national experts, the international project compared the evolution of supplementary pensions, focusing on the role of the state and social partners in regulating occupational and private pensions. The comparison of Germany with nine western European countries (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom) offers enough variations on old-age income security to analyze the varying impact on the level of coverage, performance, composition and risk pooling. Building on ten country studies by international teams of experts, three comparative analyses examined the long-term development of public and private pension systems, the variations in governance of private supplementary pensions and the impact of pension systems on current and future social inequality in old age. The results were published in the edited volume “The Varieties of Pension Governance (Oxford University Press, 2011). In addition, three doctoral projects were developed in the context of the project. The goal of the project was to contribute to the comparative analysis of institutional changes in public-private mix and pension reforms. The research revealed the path-dependent development of multipillar pension systems: the Beverdige systems were early in developing funded pensions, while Bismarck pension systems lagged behind. There are very different modes in private pension governance and regulation, varying from less regulation in liberal market economies to higher levels of regulation in some coordinated market economies, particularly those with collectively negotiated or mandatory private pensions. These variations matter for income inequality, in particular for the scope of private pensions and its share in overall pension income.

Fact sheet

2005 to 2011
Data Sources: 
Country case studies (secondary analysis and interviews); mi
Geographic Space: 
Europe (European Union)



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