“Research matters: tangible scientific contributions to professional practice”

Preface from the Board of Directors

A world in the grip of the coronavirus shows how important scientific facts are. They are necessary to help people as good as possible, to contain the virus and to deal with this crisis. But also to interpret this hugely complex situation. The crisis shows that knowledge built up over years is useful, but that new questions are also constantly emerging. In this special time, research is of the utmost importance. This applies to all of society, but certainly also to the pension sector.

A global economic and health crisis did not yet exist in 2019. Still, last year was marked by change. For one thing, our new four-year action plan and the Netspar NexT Research Agenda both went into effect. The future of the Dutch pension system is a central theme in both, which was particularly timely, given that the Dutch cabinet and the social partners reached an agreement for reforming the system in June 2019. Yet, we are thinking further into the future, as well. Issues related to retirement and old age are becoming broader and more complex, and topics such as life-cycle planning, labor market developments, digitalization, and alternative forms of solidarity will play a major role in our future pension system.

A number of Netspar researchers were involved last year, behind the scenes, in the Parameters and XXX (committee Marike sat on) government advisory committees. Their scientific insight and expertise proved useful in terms of drawing up the pension agreement, which is being worked out in various working relationships and by a steering committee. Netspar was also front and center advocating for the sharing of scientific knowledge. Our Pension Agreement Dossier provides an overview of the Netspar research on the themes in the agreement. We also issued a Pension Agreement Special (in Dutch) in conjunction with the economic trade publication ESB and PensioenPro. It, too, showcased academic research: diverse insights that can help when it comes to implementing the agreement in practice. Netspar contributed as a knowledge partner to making sure themes in the agreement were examined from various perspectives.

Casper van Ewijk
General Director Netspar

Connecting Research and Practice

I am proud that we highlight the importance of scientific research for professional practice and that we maintain an awareness of different interests and views. We hosted a number of special events in 2019 that helped connect research and practice:

  • Together with the Federation of Dutch Pension Funds and the Dutch Association of Insurers, we organized the Innovation in Pension Communications conference in May for 120 pension fund managers and other professionals.
  • In July, we organized a work conference on the pension agreement, in which we brought experts together to identify issues for the steering committee.
  • In November, we invited representatives from youth and senior citizens organizations to meet with one another so as to make contact, share knowledge, and learn about Netspar research.
Can You See Me?

Beyond that, we are making tremendous progress in boosting the visibility of our scientific contributions in addressing social issues. Indeed, we invested a great deal of effort in this in 2019, with the continued professionalization of our communications activities. We hosted five interactive webinars on such topics as pension engagement, communications, and the details of the new contract. At the end of the year, we introduced our “one pagers,” in which research results are disseminated to a large target group in a concise, easy-to-understand format. Combined with our proactive policy and the efforts of several key researchers, this has led to over 100 reports on our research in the national media. Research matters!

A Word of Thanks

Netspar wants to be prepared for the questions that will inevitably come and offer knowledge and insight to inform the discussion with facts and provide clarity when questions arise. The financial and professional support of the sector is indispensable to this. A valuable development in that regard was that we were able to welcome pension administrator MN back into our network. The efforts, commitment, and enthusiasm of our partners, governing bodies, researchers, and staff have all made tangible contributions to Netspar’s success this past year. They keep Netspar moving and provide us with the basis for tackling new questions in the coming year, such as the significance of the corona crisis for the pension sector. I would like to thank everyone very much for that.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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