Marek Naczyk, Stefan Domonkos
The financial crisis and varieties of pension privatization reversals in Eastern Europe

Governance, 2016: 29, issue 2, pp. 167-184
ISSN: 0952-1895 (print); 1468-0491 (online)

Since the global financial crisis, those East European countries that had partly privatized their pension systems in the 1990s or early 2000s increasingly scaled back their mandatory private retirement accounts and restored the role of public provision. What explains this wave of reversals in pension privatization and variation in its outcomes? Proponents of pension privatization had argued that it would boost domestic capital markets and economic growth. By revealing how pension privatization helped increase sovereign debt and how large a part of pension funds' assets was invested in government bonds, the crisis strengthened the position of domestic opponents of mandatory private accounts. But these actors' capacity and determination to reverse pension privatization depended on the level of their country's public debt and on pension funds' portfolio structure. Empirically, the argument is supported with case studies of Hungarian, Polish, and Slovak pension reform.