The effect of aging on pensions

The main topic of this dissertation is the effect of aging on pension systems. As the population of many Western-European countries ages, this topic has gained wide attention in both the public debate and the academic literature. Aging in the Netherlands can be illustrated with the development of the dependency ratio, defined as 100 times the number of people who are 65 years or older divided by the number of people between 19 and 65 years of age. In 1960 (three years after the state-pension ‘Algemene Ouderdoms Wet’ was introduced) the dependency ratio equaled 16.8. In 2010 the dependency ratio was 20.1, and it is projected to increase to 49.3 in 2040 (while decreasing to 46 in 2060).

The first chapter forms an introduction to the main topic. Chapters 2, 3 and 4 of this thesis analyze the effect of aging on intergenerational risk sharing, public pension expenditure, and the asset allocation of pension funds respectively. Chapter 5 shows how a pension fund can improve participants’ welfare by facilitating financial transactions between generations. Chapter 6 is more general and focuses on the politics of reforms of welfare programs, including pension reforms. Finally, the seventh chapter is not related to pensions; it analyzes the association between media coverage and consumer confidence.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is een denktank en kennisnetwerk. Netspar is gericht op een goed geïnformeerd pensioendebat.


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