Preface from the BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Last year started in a lockdown – and ended in one, too. Fortunately, there were also occasional times in 2021 when we were able to meet in person to share knowledge, network, and have a drink. But the majority of contact occurred online. One of the questions I was frequently asked was whether we could continue the online after-lunch working group meetings even after the lockdown ended. Yes, we will continue to hold them! We connect scientific knowledge and practice, both online and offline.


Last year, we welcomed four new partners: Rail&OV joined us in January; SPMS came on board in the summer; and two Shell pension funds became part of our network just before Christmas. These new partners introduce fresh vitality and energy. And we are pleased about the entirely unique issues and perspectives they bring to the table. Our partner network is expanding, and looking ahead to the next few years of transitioning to a new pension system, that gives me a great deal of confidence in the added value we continue to provide. We also welcomed four new members to our Supervisory Board, who strengthen it further: Inge van den Doel, Laura van Geest, Annette Mosman, and Willem Noordman.

Having an Impact

Marike Knoef
General Director Netspar

The Dutch Social and Economic Council (SER) called on Netspar to help develop and disseminate knowledge about the new pension system. We were also nominated by Tilburg University for its 2021 Impact Award because of our work on the creation of the new Pension Agreement. We are highly honored that Netspar has been recognized for the impact our research is having on society. Congratulations to everyone who has been a part of that.


“Whatever happens, doing nothing is not an option”: that was the conclusion of the project group that studied four future scenarios following the pending pension reform. That holds true for Netspar as an organization, as well. A new action plan is in the works, and that requires that rigorous evaluations be conducted. The Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs, our Scientific Council, and our partners all performed assessments and reported their findings. It is evident from those reports that Netspar is a unique institution in the field of pension and retirement research and enjoys great prestige at home and abroad: few, if any, other policy fields in the Netherlands have such a highly organized knowledge network, and in no other country is pension policy supported in a similar manner. We are proud and happy with all the praise we received about our scientific and social value, but concerns were also raised. These centered on our financial resources and whether we can continue to deliver the same high quality. It takes an adequate budget to perform long-range research and secure outstanding researchers.

Making Connections

The value we add stems from our ability to connect scientific knowledge with practice. Nowhere is that more evident than in the many events we organized last year. When I see our partners’ staff coming together with researchers, it makes me happy to know that Netspar made that happen. Many relevant projects, complex research questions, and close collaborations germinated at one of our events. Here is a small sample of the diverse events we organized in 2021:

  • 36 online “after lunch taskforce meetings” where new research was presented and discussed by researchers and experts from the field.
  • Our “Hot Pension Potato at Election Time” event with pension specialists from the parliamentary parties of the Dutch House of Representatives and researchers serving as fact checkers.
  • The presentation of a report on the lessons to be gleaned from major pension transitions in other countries. Researchers Onno van Steenbeek and Benne van Popta personally submitted the report to Wouter Koolmees, Dutch Minister of Social Affairs and Employment.
  • The presentation of our paper on the “division of responsibilities in pension provisions planning.” The project group, headed by Fieke van der Lecq and Rene Maatman, considered the repercussions of the system changes that will go into effect around 2026, projecting four scenarios into 2036.
  • Our annual Pensions & Research conference, the theme of which was sustainability. We were finally able to gather live and in person again for a conference where excellent speakers from the field engaged the participants in a lively discussion.
  • In November, Netspar researchers were an active part of the Pensioen3daagse, a three-day national campaign to boost retirement awareness. In conjunction with the Dutch Money Wise platform, the Federation of Dutch Pension Funds, and the Dutch Association of Insurers, we organized the presentation of the Pensioenwegwijzer (“pension signpost”) prize, along with knowledge sessions on pension communications and flash webinars for anyone curious to learn more about pensions.

Sharing Knowledge

In addition to the events at which our expertise was shared with a specific group of people, we continued to actively disseminate our knowledge to a broader public. We keep our website topically relevant by continually publishing papers and our own one-pagers. We have launched numerous podcasts in which researchers and professionals discuss the important themes of the day and developed videos in which we explain complicated matters in a way that is easy to understand. With the transition to a new pension system, the demand for knowledge and expertise has only grown more intense, and we believe it is important that this be provided in an efficient, accessible manner. We are working with the industry to develop the knowledge needed to find solutions. That requires an ambitious action plan and a willingness and commitment on the part of everyone involved. I look forward to continuing to work on this and providing added value together with our partners, researchers, and team members.

To everyone involved: thank you so much for your efforts, and I look forward to being able to meet in person soon.

Marike Knoef
Algemeen directeur

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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