Program 1. Wellbeing and Welfare of Older People
Research can help us understand the wide range of income and wealth situations and general welfare of people in their old age. Previous Netspar research by Alessie, Knoef, Goudswaard, and others indicates significant differences in the financial standing of elderly individuals. Recent studies have significantly improved our understanding of income levels and income differences during the payout phase of retirement savings, thanks in part to the availability of detailed data on income and pensions. However, our attempts at comprehending the big picture remain in their infancy. This will involve taking a more comprehensive approach that examines such aspects as consumption patterns and needs, living situations, healthcare expenses, and the possible role played by social networks and informal care, as well as linking all this to the sense of well-being among older people. Special attention should be paid to heterogeneity and at-risk groups (the formerly self-employed, widows, divorced people, people with social security shortfalls, etc.). The availability of information from new databases has provided a great opportunity to increase our insight in these areas, whereby we will seek to partner with other parties (e.g., CBS, DNB, RIVM, CPB, and Nibud).
Having insight into the lifestyles and living conditions of elderly people is essential for all policymaking related to old age. The central question is how the pension system can contribute, in conjunction with healthcare, housing, and employment, to securing a living standard for the elderly that approximates their pre-retirement living standard. The first and second pillars (i.e., social security and employment-based retirement plans) form the basis for post-retirement income but no longer guaranty a financially carefree retirement for everyone in the future. Accordingly, there is a need for research into the repercussions of both existing and future pension and income policies on the welfare of the elderly.