2008 OECD Economic Surveys: Ireland 2008

image of OECD Economic Surveys: Ireland 2008

This 2008 edition of OECD's periodic survey of the Irish economy finds that it has performed remarkably well over the past decade, propelling per capita income to above the OECD average. Economic fundamentals remain strong, but economic activity is now easing. The survey examines some of the key challenges Ireland now faces including maintaining growth, the housing market slowdown, financial stability, adapting government spending to slower revenue growth, reforming the pension system, and integrating migrants.

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Setting the pension system on the right track

Ireland currently has a relatively young population but faces similar, if more distant, long-term pressures from population ageing as other countries. The pension system is founded on a basic state pension but relies heavily on private saving to provide adequate replacement incomes in retirement. Large increases in the state pension have reduced poverty, although many pensioners still have low incomes. There is a large retirement savings gap for many households between the close to flat-rate state pension and a reasonable replacement income in retirement. Private pensions saving may be too limited to close this gap for many low- and middleincome earners. There are large tax incentives to save for retirement, but these are poorly targeted and the overall effect on saving is likely to be limited. Against the background of the pressures that ageing will eventually impose on public finances and the wider economy, this chapter outlines options for pension reform.

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