Progressive Pensions as an Incentive for Labor Force Participation

In this paper, we challenge the conventional idea that an increase in the progressivity of old-age pensions unanimously distorts the labor supply decision of households. So far, the literature has argued that higher pension progressivity leads to more redistribution and insurance provision on the one hand, but increases implicit taxes and therefore distorts labor  supply choices on the other. In contrast, we show that a well-designed reform of the pension system has the potential to encourage labor force participation. We propose a progressive pension component linked to the employment decision of households, which implicitly subsidizes employment of the productivity poor. A simulation analysis in a quantitative stochastic overlapping generations model with productivity and longevity risk indicates that this positive employment effect can be sizable and welfare enhancing.

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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