Bernhard Ebbinghaus
Pension Governance in a Globalising World

Pp. 308–318 in: Christian Karner, Dirk Hofäcker (Eds.): Research Handbook on the Sociology of Globalization. 2023. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar

Demographic ageing is seen as challenging the sustainability of pensions across advanced economies. Until recent reforms, people tended to exit from work ever earlier, while their life expectancy and thus time in retirement augmented, both trends put additional financial burden on welfare states. Public pension expenditure is still large across most European welfare states, though private pension pay-outs have increased and pension fund assets vastly accumulated in some multi-pillar systems such as in Anglophone countries, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. However, flexibilization of labour markets and ongoing retrenchment of benefits can lead to increased old age poverty and inequality. Given these challenges, pension reforms have been on the political agenda for over three decades across OECD countries. This article will outline the main challenges due to demographic ageing, the main differences in analysing pension systems, the major pension reform trends towards multi-pillarization, the role of international organizations, and the global governance issues. While mainly focusing on ageing and pensions in advanced economies, the contribution will also discuss implications for the Global South.