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Evaluating Pension Reform

Bernard H Casey


The intention of this article is not - pace Shakespeare - to praise the
new Swedish pension system - but also it is not to bury it. Rather it is
to lay out some of the basic premises on which retirement income systems
are predicated. It tries to make explicit notions that are often implicit and
sometimes not addressed at all. Discussion of the relative merits of "NDC-type"
systems, or of pension reform more generally, cannot take place without this
being done. It is necessary to consider not merely public pension systems, and
as importantly, private pensions systems that interact with them, but also
employment systems that provide work for older people and social service
systems that provide care to those unable to help themselves. It is also necessary
to make clear what objectives particular reforms are trying to achieve. Normally,
these are multiple and, in so far as they are, there are ordered. The hierarchy in
question need to be made clear as much as do the objectives themselves. The
article argues that only if reform is sufficiently encompassing, and only if it is
sufficiently transparent, will it be sustainable.