Precautionary saving, wealth accumulation and pensions. An empirical microeconomic perspective

This thesis bundles four studies on saving for retirement and the role of the pension system. Saving for retirement has been and remains to be an important topic on the policy agenda, and has produced a wide spectrum of research in economics. The four studies aim to contribute to understanding the role of pension systems in the decision how much to save for retirement. A key feature in the first three essays concerns the role of uncertainty in the decision to put money aside, investigated using Dutch microeconomic data, whereas the last study takes a European view on the same topic. Uncertainty in pension income is of particular policy interest in the Netherlands at this moment. The current financial crisis has shown the vulnerability of the Dutch pension funds to bad stock market returns and low interest rates, which puts pension benefits of all participants at risk. This comes on top of the problems due to aging of the population, which increases the social security paycheck. In this introductory chapter, I will first motivate the research and discuss its policy relevance in section 1.2. Second, I present the research questions the thesis aims to answer in section 1.3. Section 1.4 summarizes the main findings of the four studies. The remaining chapters of this thesis present the four studies undertaken. All chapters may be read independently.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is een denktank en kennisnetwerk, gewijd aan het bevorderen van een beter begrip van de economische en sociale gevolgen van pensioenen, vergrijzing en ‘de oude dag’ in Nederland en Europa.

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