The European Journal of Comparative Economics

ISSN: 1824-2979

EJCE Year: 2012, August. Volume: 9 - Issue: 2

Pension Systems after the Storm: France and the United Kingdom in a Comparative Analysis

by Christine Lagoutte ; Anne Reimat

Start page: 305 - End page: 330

Keywords: welfare state, social security, pension systems, financial crisis, institutional interactions

Jel code: H55; P10; P52

Abstract:

All pension systems have been affected by the financial and economic crisis, although in different ways. This paper analyses the effects of the crisis on pension systems and the resulting responses and changes, and offers a theoretical interpretation of these responses. This interpretation focuses on the relationships between pension systems and broader socioeconomic institutional configurations, and between pension systems and other core, formative economic institutions, in order to explain the effects of the crisis, the nature of the reforms adopted by governments and the future outlook for pension systems. From this perspective, a comparative analysis of two pension systems with different approaches, the French system that relies heavily on social insurance and the primarily market-based British system, appears relevant in the interest of assessing how similar pressures and disruptions can produce different impacts and responses. The analysis shows that these pension systems' responses to the crisis have preserved the main institutional features of each configuration, and even reinforce some of them. Nevertheless, it appears that both systems are converging toward an institutionalization of a twofold social welfare system. The French system attempts to preserve the pension rights of core-workers on a mandatory social insurance basis, while non-standard workers benefit from tax-funded social solidarity measures. In the British system, the State intervenes to both extend secure pension fund enrolment to low income groups and to reinforce safety nets for lower income retirees. Finally, the recent changes have not called into question the fundamental logic of either pension system, although concerns are on the rise in respect of their future adequacy and sustainability

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