Program 3. Work, Retirement, Housing, and Healthcare
Retirement cannot be viewed separately from the other underpinnings of old age: healthcare, housing, and employment. Many people build assets not only through their pensions, but also through their own home, and often these two forms of wealth creation are poorly coordinated. Moreover, the level of assets needed for retirement is directly related to elder care. The new emphasis on investment and self-reliance raises a host of new questions about the confluence of employment, healthcare, and full- or part-time retirement. Health issues also play a significant role. Advantages could be gained by better coordinating the various domains, and there are specific questions in need of investigation in certain areas.
In terms of housing, the issue is how to better coordinate wealth accrual through pensions and home ownership. Should newcomers to the housing market, for instance, be allowed to divert some of their pension or pension contributions to home financing? And how can the equity older people have in their homes be better converted to liquid assets, such as through reverse mortgages?
In terms of long-term care, the question is how personal savings could play a greater role in the future. Faced with an aging of the population, the government is under increasing pressure in this area and shifting more of the responsibility to individual households. What are the implications for retirement income and the associated uncertainties? Could healthcare savings plans or greater flexibility in pensions provide a solution? Is there a need for new forms of insurance and schemes for long-term care and could these ease the strain on the collective services? Other countries have voluntary insurance for long-term care—albeit on a limited scale—but it is a difficult market due, in part, to adverse selection. We can gain an estimation of possible developments in the Netherlands by studying the experience of those other countries.
Finally, there are some critical questions that need to be addressed about the transition from employment to retirement. With the increase in the retirement age, people are under pressure to work longer. However, not all workers are able to reach retirement age without physical problems. Part-time retirement can help make the transition from work to retirement smoother and thus also mitigate the differences in health between low- and high-education personnel. Greater flexibility could also help people in balancing employment and informal care. Information from new databases (stream, PIAK) will provide better insight into the connection between informal care and labor market participation.