Collective pension schemes and individual choice
Collective pension schemes are the dominant form of saving for retirement in the Netherlands. We investigate the introduction of individual choices into a collective pension system without affecting the generally accepted advantages of a collective agreement. Increasing the range of individual choices can be beneficial, as it prevents pension plans from making decisions for the average plan participant that may not be optimal for individual participants. We argue for a system in which individuals choose from a set of low-cost balanced index funds, together with a level of intergenerational guarantees that are exchange-traded. This system maintains the two primary advantages of collective agreements (risk sharing and low implementation costs), while facilitating different risk-taking behavior at the individual level.
To facilitate individual choices within collective pension schemes, it is important to enhance the transparency associated with intergenerational guarantees to all participants in the scheme, both in terms of their price and quantity. We argue that the current system (in which long-term guarantees are given by the young to the old within a specific fund but not across pension funds) is not transparent and that it may be suboptimal. We propose a system of Pension Guarantee Exchanges (PGEs) that increase transparency and allow pension funds with different age distributions to trade with each other. Knowing the price of such guarantees facilitates the introduction of individual portfolio choices within collective pension schemes.