Aging and the politics of the welfare state

Analyzing 30 OECD-countries between 1980-2010, this paper estimates the effect of an aging electorate on public expenditure on old age. The main outcome is that an increase in the age of the median voter is not significantly associated with more generous pensions. The second result is that an older median voter is not significantly associated with an increase in pension expenditure relative to GDP. The results do not support the main prediction of median voter models that an older median voter will successfully push for higher individual benefits. There is however a positive and significant effect of the dependency ratio on both public expenditure on old age and on generosity of pensions.

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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