Pension Reform

Pension Reform : A Short Guide

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This is an abridgement of Barr and Diamond's 'Reforming Pensions: Principles and Policy Choices' (OUP, 2008), a larger book that is intended for policy makers and as a supplement in college courses. The problem. Mandatory pension systems are a worldwide phenomenon. However, with given contribution rates, monthly benefits and retirement ages, pension systems are not consistent with three long-run trends - declining mortality, declining fertility, and earlier retirement. Thus many systems need reform. Principles. This book gives an extensive but nontechnical explanation of the economics of pension design. The theoretical arguments have three elements. 1. Pension systems have multiple objectives - consumption smoothing, insurance, poverty relief, and redistribution. Good policy needs to bear them all in mind. 2. Good analysis should be framed in a second-best context - simple economic models are a bad guide to policy design in a world with imperfect information and decision-making, incomplete markets and taxation. 3. Any choice of pension system has distributional consequences, which the book recognizes explicitly. The analysis includes discussion of labor markets, capital markets, risk sharing and gender and family, with comparison of PAYG and funded systems, recognizing that the suitable level of funding differs by country. Alongside the economic principles of good design, policy must also take account of a country's capacity to implement the system. Thus the theoretical analysis is complemented by discussion of implementation, and of experiences, both good and bad, in many countries, with particular attention to China and Chile. Policy conclusions: 1. Sound application of the principles outlined above can and does lead to widely different systems in different country settings. 2. Unless there are transfers from outside the system, any improvement to the finances of a pension system must involve one or more of (a) higher contribution rates, (b) lower monthly pensions, (c) later retirement at the same monthly pension, (d) policies designed to increase national output. 3.The previous statement holds whatever the degree of funding. If a public pension is regarded as unsustainable the problem needs to be addressed directly by one of these methods.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 264 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 15.24mm | 430.91g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 12 black and white line illustrations
  • 0195387724
  • 9780195387728
  • 835,005

Review quote

The book is a must-read for any student who wants to work in public administrationsince pensions affect virtually every sector of public policy, and increasingly so in developing countriesand not only for pension experts. It is extremely well written and clear, and it is an intellectual joy to separate the two voices in this masterpiece of economic music: the first and fundamental voice of scientific deduction, almost always intertwined with the second, lower key voice of a legitimate but not uncontroversial paternalistic view of a largely benevolent government. * Economic Development and Cultural Change *show more

About Nicholas Barr

Nicholas Barr is Professor of Public Economics at the London School of Economics, the author of numerous books and articles, and a Trustee of HelpAge International. He spent two periods at the World Bank working on income transfers in Central and Eastern Europe and has been a Visiting Scholar at the Fiscal Affairs Department at the IMF. He has been active in debates about pension reform and higher education finance, advising governments in the post-communist countries, and in the UK, Australia, Chile, China, Hungary, New Zealand and South Africa.show more

Table of contents

FOREWORD TO PRINCIPLES AND POLICY CHOICES BY PROFESSOR LORD STERN; PREFACE; GLOSSARY; REFERENCES; INDEXshow more

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